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Giving Place in Tolono is looking for spring and summer wear

Despite restriction allowing clients inside, the Giving Place continued to help those in need of clothing this winter. Now that spring is here and summer is on the way, they are now accepting gently used, cleaned ready-to-hang spring and summer clothing.

The organization does not have laundry facilities to remove stains or pet hair and ask items as such not be left with them. They also ask not to submit torn or ripped clothing as they don't have the capacity to repair them.

Donated clothing items can be drop off on Wednesday 4-6p at 113 N Bourne St in Tolono. Anyone with donation can also call (217) 649-1389 to arrange convenient time to drop off so they can be placed inside the building. The Giving Place asks that donation not left on the front steps to the building.

Tonight's area sports schedule

Livestream links for tonight's games

Unity Boys Junior Varsity Basketball vs Rantoul | 5:30 PM Central

SJO Boys Junior Varsity Basketball vs Olympia | 5:25 PM Central

SJO Varsity Basketball vs Olympia | 6:57 PM Central

Unity Boys Varsity Basketball vs Rantoul | 7:00 PM Central

Henry has strong game against Prairie Central

Prairie Central capitalized on five three-pointers in the second quarter to surge past the Unity in their Illini Prairie Conference game back on February 20. The Rockets taking another loss on the chin, lost at home, 55-33.

Taylor Henry led the team with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the weekender. Head coach Dave Ellars said she continues build on her role has a future team leader.

"Taylor is a winner; she will do what ever it takes for the team," he said. "She sees the floor well and does a great job of reading the defense."

Meanwhile, the team lone senior, Chloee Reed, finished with a team-high 12 points. She packaged one steal, three boards and two assists as best she could to help keep the game competitive as possible.

Another Unity player showing signs of making great strides in contributing to the team effort is freshman Katey Moore. Despite having to train in a crazy pandemic restricted year, she has made steady improvement as first year varsity player for the Rockets.

"Katey is very athletic and is always working on ways to improve," Ellars said. His plebe player scored 7 points and added the same number of boards to her Saturday afternoon stats. "As a freshman she is learning the speed of the game at the varsity level and has adjusted."

Erika Steinman, who had one steal and credited with two rebounds, was the only other Unity player to make a scoring contribution with four points.

The visiting Hawks were paced by Mariya Sisco's four treys and 16 points outing. Sister Chloe Sisco was 4-for-4 from the free throw line and good for 12 points. Senior Natalie Graf chipped another six points to round out the team's top three scorers.

Box Score

Prairie Central 19 15 13 8 - 55
Unity 12 4 8 9 - 33

C. Reed 3 (2) 0-0 -- 12, England 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Renfrow 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Miller 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Stringer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Steinman 2 (0) 0-0 -- 4, B. Henry 0 (0) 0-2 -- 0, M. Reed 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Moore 3 (0) 1-2 -- 7, Alagna 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, T. Henry 4 (0) 2-5 -- 10, Flesch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Prairie Central
C. Sisco 1 (2) 4-4 -- 12, Davies 0 (1) 1-2 -- 4, Kafer 1 (0) 2-6 -- 4, Stork 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Edelmen 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, M. Sisco 2 (4) 0-0 -- 16, C. Strong 1 (1) 0-0 -- 5, Wilkey 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Graf 0 (1) 3-4 -- 6, Collins 0 (0) 2-2 -- 2, Buff 0 (0) 2-2 -- 2, WhitFill 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Grayburg 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2.

Gentle on the joints and fun, rebounding is a great way to get fit

from NAPSI

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only resulted in more people working out at home, it has underscored the tremendous value of regular exercise in staying healthy and boosting your immune system. If you’re looking to start exercising or want to add some variety to your fitness routine, now may be a great time to try rebounding, where you bounce on a mini-trampoline to build stamina, burn calories and shape up.

What is Rebounding?

Rebounding is a low-impact, high-intensity exercise on a fitness trampoline with elastic cords. It’s intuitive, gentle on the joints and, users say, a whole lot of fun. From different ways to jump, to strength and balance work, to flexibility moves, exercisers enjoy the ease, rhythm and freedom of rebounding, along with energizing music that drives workouts and helps endorphins flow.

“We perform workouts to the beat of the music, which allows people to get out of their minds and focus on their bodies and movement,” explains Jacey Lambros, co-owner of Jane DO, a fitness brand with four studios in the greater New York City region. “Our trampoline class is a total-body workout designed to lift both the body and the spirit.”

Benefits of Rebounding

Here are some more reasons to consider rebounding:

1. Accommodates all fitness levels. Beginners can go at their own pace and use a handlebar attached to the trampoline, while advanced exercisers can accelerate their pace and intensity for greater challenge. Both benefit from this low-impact modality, which minimizes joint stress.

2. Burns calories. Studies have shown that rebounding for 20 minutes is comparable to running for 30 minutes—without all the jarring on the body. Another study indicates that rebounding is 50 percent more efficient at burning fat than running. Plus, because workouts are low-impact, they don’t feel as taxing, so you can exercise longer for even better results.

3. Develops balance. The unstable surface of trampolines means your body has to work harder and constantly engage the core to remain balanced and in control.

4. Improves the lymphatic system. Rebounding stimulates the lymphatic system, which functions to help the body get rid of toxins and is essential for immunity and overall health.

5. Builds bone mass. Jumping on a trampoline strengthens the skeletal system to enhance bone density and help stave off osteoporosis.

6. Is compact and cost-effective. Mini-trampolines are compact and can fit anywhere (some even fold), are reasonably priced, facilitate a variety of workouts and deliver long-lasting performance over years.

How to Jump In

Get a quality trampoline from an expert such as JumpSport at

www.JumpSportFitness.com. You can choose among different models for various preferences and budgets. Then take advantage of on-demand and live streamed workouts, or hit a rebounding boutique. There are more than 20 fitness studios in the Tri-state area keeping exercisers bouncing with in-person and virtual rebounding sessions.

In the greater NYC area, Jane DO offers its trampoline workouts, along with weekly live streamed classes, at www.janedo.com/livestream and on-demand workouts, via its custom app in the Apple Store or Google Play.

"Rebounding gives you a full-body workout on a singular apparatus, in a small space, and in a way that won’t bother your neighbors," says Dani DeAngelo, co-owner of Jane DO.

PERSPIROLOGY, a boutique fitness center in Sea Bright, New Jersey, also offers a wide variety of Bounce classes in studio and online that motivate and challenge exercisers.

"We have hundreds of workouts on our site that allow exercisers to get familiar with rebounding and work hard in the comfort of their own home," says Katy Fraggos, owner/creator of PERSPIROLOGY. You can check out a free seven-day trial of the Workout At Home library at www.perspirology.com.

Rebounding can be a great way to put more of a spring in your step all year round.

Rockets clip Eagles, SJO 3rd quarter comeback solidifies win

Unity 57 - Rantoul 20

The Unity girls basketball team added a lopsided tick to their win column after defeating Rantoul on the road by 23 points on Thursday.

Interestingly enough, senior Chloee Reed led all scorers with 23 points during her 25 minutes on the floor. Teammate Taylor Henry notched a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds. Lauren Miller rounded out the top three scorers for the Rockets with 10 points, 5 rebounds and the same number of assists. Henry also led the team with four steals on defense.

Next up, Unity will host the Warriors just down the road piece from Tuscola. The guests are 10-3 overall and 4-2 in the Central Illinois Conference.

St. Joseph-Ogden 50 - Olympia 47

Ella Armstrong was 10-for-10 from the free throw line to lift the Spartans in their conference win over Olympia. The junior finished with a team-high 19 points. Payton Jacob finished with nine points and Taylor Wells added another 7. Four other players contributed at least two points in the win.

The Spartans play again on Saturday at home against the Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis. Game time is set for 2:30pm.

Photo of the Day - March 3, 2021

Making the right moves

Members of the St. Joseph-Ogden Dance Team perform the IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals in January of 2020. Despite an excellent performance and a score of 76.88, the Spartans did not advance to Saturday's championship round finishing in 21st place after the first day of Class 1A competition.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Sudoku Challenge | March 4, 2021

According to the work of cognitive scientist Jeremy Grabbe, solving Sudoku puzzles uses mental processes in what is known as working memory. Experiment by Grabbe showed that routine Sudoku playing could improve working memory in older people.

In another study on short-term memory, which involved 19,000 individuals, puzzle takers over the age of 50 had better brain function and appeared to operate at a level eight years younger than typical for their chronological age.

Click on the puzzle to open a large printable version. Save it to your computer and print. The puzzle solution will be published here a week from today. To help your brain stay sharp as a whip, visit The Sentinel for a new puzzle every week.

Make online learning easier, three useful remote learning tools

StatePoint Media
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst
The past year has demonstrated the importance of digital learning. And thanks to a variety of tools and resources that helped make remote instruction a little less stressful on everyone, teachers, students and parents quickly adapted to the changes brought on by the pandemic.


Music has been a particularly difficult subject to provide instruction for at a distance. However, educational foundations have risen to the occasion by creating a trove of resources to aid learning. For example, the Save the Music Foundation provides free activities for families, tools for educators to create their own online tutorials and more.


Remote learning has only added new challenges to an already difficult subject. The good news is that online tools are helping fill the gaps created by the new normal. Check out the Casio Cares education site, which is chock full of free math resources for students, parents and educators. Tools include emulator calculator software, curriculum support materials, live webinars and remotely-delivered teacher training. Plus, Casio’s free all-in-one web-based mathematics software, ClassPad.net, which is geared for K-12 and beyond, delivers an accessible, interactive and personalized approach to mathematics. Its functions include graphing, geometry, calculation, statistics and more.

In addition to online activities and video tutorials, Casio also offers a weekly educational webinar series focused on mathematics on its YouTube channel, covering such subjects as elementary and middle school math, algebra I and II, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus and statistics. All webinars are recorded and can be accessed any time.

Creative Writing

English and creative writing teachers are turning to new platforms to help build their student’s writing skills in a variety of creative genres. One example is Storybird, which features hundreds of courses and challenges. If your child’s teachers haven’t caught onto the trend, no worries, parents can also sign up for an account for their children.

Even after classrooms reopen nationwide, one thing is certain, with so many amazing resources available to help educators teach and students learn, digital learning tools are here to stay.

Rockets take on Rantoul, Spartans vs Spartans tonight

The season is winding down and their still time to watch five area sports teams tonight on the NFHS Network.

The Rockets girls basketball varsity and JV squad travel to Rantoul for an Illini Prairie Conference contest today. The Eagles (0-4) are still looking for their first win of the season, while Unity, 1-7 overall and 1-4 in conference play, would like to add yet another victory to their win column tonight.

The St. Joseph-Ogden girls teams are also on the road tonight at Olympia, who are tied for third place with Monticello as of today with a pair of conference wins and one loss. The Spartans are currently ranked #2 with victories over five IPC teams.

Here is tonight's line-up:

St. Joseph-Ogden Girls Junior Varsity Basketball @ Olympia | 5:30 PM Central

Unity Girls Junior Varsity Basketball @ Rantoul | 5:30 PM Central

St. Joseph-Ogden Girls Varsity Basketball @ Olympia | 7:00 PM Central

Unity Girls Varsity Basketball @ Rantoul | 7:00 PM Central

Unity Boys Middle school Basketball @ Tuscola | 7:15 PM Central

If you are not already a subscriber, follow this link sign up for a monthly or annual subscription to watch SJO or Unity sports via live stream or archived by the NFHS Network. Monthly passes are just $10.99 each or save 47% and purchase an annual subscription at $69.99.

Did you miss the last Unity or SJO basketball game. One of coolest thing about the NFHS Network is the ability to go back and watch games over and over again as long as you are a member. You can view this season's SJO basketball games here and all the Unity Rocket basketball games streamed so far here.

Therapeutic recreation and healing, a path to personal growth

A group of canoes sliced through the water on a warm summer afternoon, laughter filling the air as Rosecrance staff and clients relaxed in nature’s beauty. With a sudden burst of energy, one client sped up to leaders and, with a wide grin, exclaimed, "I think I’ve found my passion!"

After several weeks of working through a variety of therapy modalities, the getaway connected with the client in a way that nothing else had. This activity showed the client how the skills they learned made a difference in everyday life and could give them positive interests to pursue long after leaving treatment.

Yoga is great way to learn mindfulness
Photo by Sarah Pflug/Burst

"The look of hope is a beautiful thing," said therapeutic recreation specialist Matt Larson. "It is awe-inspiring when clients find new ways to connect with themselves, and realize that if they can do this one challenge we give them, then there are so many other things they can do."

Therapeutic recreation is one important way residential clients find healing at Rosecrance. It is woven into the fabric of treatment program at all sites because it possesses a power to connect with clients in unique ways. Based in experience or action, what may seem like fun and games actually is a critical technique that teaches clients how to navigate life using what they learned on the basketball court, a canoe trip, in a greenhouse, and in other experiential learning settings. Data show that this improves stress, anxiety, emotional regulation, engagement with others, and knowledge of life skills.

Therapies are designed to give clients opportunities to grow in safe stress situations. By working through issues while completing a painting or doing a teambuilding exercise, clients discover that they can manage everyday life using what they learned in these settings.

"We create safe spaces where they can take risks and show vulnerabilities," said Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator Abby Nelson. "Therapeutic recreation can’t live in treatment. They have to take it home with them. It’s huge when they the can verbalize what they are going to do when they leave Rosecrance."

Rosecrance offers clients a multi-faceted range of activities such as art, horticulture, fitness, sports, yoga, meditation and mindfulness, labyrinth and sensory room, team building exercises, and more. Seasonal events add to the variety with events such as hiking, canoeing, the Heart Art show in February, and Haunted Woods in October.

"We know everyone has a different passion, and that is why we incorporate so many therapies into our treatment," said therapeutic recreation specialist Paul Fasano. "For some, that may be yoga, and others may be drawn to something like art or outdoors activities. Whatever it is, it’s always satisfying to see clients find their niche."

Staff help create a healing environment by participating in activities with clients to show what is possible. They are side-by-side lifting weights, meditating, and painting to model what is possible in life. It also gives therapeutic recreation staff opportunities to continuously grow through challenges such as training for half-marathons together.

"It’s important that we demonstrate skills ourselves, whether we’re at work or at home," said therapeutic recreation specialist Alyssa Newton. "That makes things that might seem intimidating at first a lot more accessible. We can point out our progress and highlight when we see clients taking big steps forward."

Photo of the Day - March 3, 2021

Point - Spartans!

(Left to right) St. Joseph-Ogden's Anna Wentzloff, Alex Frerichs, Hannah Umbarger and Shayne Immke celebrate a point for the Spartans with head coach Abby McDonald during game three of their Class 2A supersectional match against Chicago Christian. After dropping the first set, SJO came back to take the match 2-1 on November 8, 2019. McDonald and the Spartans went on to finish third in the state during the 2019-20 season. After a nearly a eight month delay for their season, McDonald and the Spartans can begin practicing for the 2021 spring season on Monday. This academic year the IHSA volleyball season will run March 15, or seven days after the team's first practice after that date, until April 24.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Area varsity boys teams drop conference games

Unity 48 - St. Thomas More 50

Blake Kimball led the Rockets with a game-high 20 points and Nate Drennen added another 16 in their team's overtime road loss to St. Thomas More. Austin Langendorf, Henry Thomas and Damian Knoll combined their effort for 12 more points for UHS.

Unity's next game is at home against Rantoul this Friday.

Spartans suffer biggest loss of the season

Illinois Valley Central's Mac Parmelee had a banner day against SJO. The 6-foot-3 senior used his size to score 20 points in the paint on his way to a game-high 35 finish for the Grey Ghost in their 77-52 win over St.Joseph-Ogden.

SJO got 27 points from Ty Pence, who notched another double-double with 10 boards on his home court. Evan Ingram contributed eight more points and Jackson Rydell rounded out the top three scorers with seven points.

The Spartans' JV squad defeated IVC's squad, 58-48.

Rydell and the Spartans host Olympia on Friday for another Illini Prairie matchup.

Family Caregivers, Routinely Left Off Vaccine Lists, Worry What Would Happen ‘If I Get Sick’

by Judith Graham
Before her stretched a line of people waiting to get covid-19 vaccines. “It was agonizing to know that I couldn’t get in that line,” said Davidson, 50, who is devoted to her father and usually cares for him full time. “If I get sick, what would happen to him?”

Tens of thousands of middle-aged sons and daughters caring for older relatives with serious ailments but too young to qualify for a vaccine themselves are similarly terrified of becoming ill and wondering when they can get protected against the coronavirus.

Like aides and other workers in nursing homes, these family caregivers routinely administer medications, monitor blood pressure, cook, clean and help relatives wash, get dressed and use the toilet, among many other responsibilities. But they do so in apartments and houses, not in long-term care institutions — and they’re not paid.

“In all but name, they’re essential health care workers, taking care of patients who are very sick, many of whom are completely reliant upon them, some of whom are dying,” said Katherine Ornstein, a caregiving expert and associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai’s medical school in New York City. “Yet, we don’t recognize or support them as such, and that’s a tragedy.”

The distinction is critically important because health care workers have been prioritized to get covid vaccines, along with vulnerable older adults in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. But family members caring for equally vulnerable seniors living in the community are grouped with the general population in most states and may not get vaccines for months.

The exception: Older caregivers can qualify for vaccines by virtue of their age as states approve vaccines for adults ages 65, 70 or 75 and above. A few states have moved family caregivers into phase 1a of their vaccine rollouts, the top priority tier. Notably, South Carolina has done so for families caring for medically fragile children, and Illinois has given that designation to families caring for relatives of all ages with significant disabilities.

Arizona is also trying to accommodate caregivers who accompany older residents to vaccination sites, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state’s Department of Health Services, said Monday during a Zoom briefing for President Joe Biden. Comprehensive data about which states are granting priority status to family caregivers is not available.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced plans to offer vaccines to people participating in its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. That initiative gives financial stipends to family members caring for veterans with serious injuries; 21,612 veterans are enrolled, including 2,310 age 65 or older, according to the VA. Family members can be vaccinated when the veterans they look after become eligible, a spokesperson said.

“The current pandemic has amplified the importance of our caregivers whom we recognize as valuable members of Veterans’ health care teams,” Dr. Richard Stone, VA acting undersecretary for health, said in the announcement.

An estimated 53 million Americans are caregivers, according to a 2020 report. Nearly one-third spend 21 hours or more each week helping older adults and people with disabilities with personal care, household tasks and nursing-style care (giving injections, tending wounds, administering oxygen and more). An estimated 40% are providing high-intensity care, a measure of complicated, time-consuming caregiving demands.

This is the group that should be getting vaccines, not caregivers who live at a distance or who don’t provide direct, hands-on care, said Carol Levine, a senior fellow and former director of the Families and Health Care Project at the United Hospital Fund in New York City.

Rosanne Corcoran, 53, is among them. Her 92-year-old mother, Rose, who has advanced dementia, lives with Corcoran and her family in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, on the second floor of their house. She hasn’t come down the stairs in three years.

“I wouldn’t be able to take her somewhere to get the vaccine. She doesn’t have any stamina,” said Corcoran, who arranges for doctors to make house calls when her mother needs attention. When she called their medical practice recently, an administrator said they didn’t have access to the vaccines.

Corcoran said she “does everything for her mother,” including bathing her, dressing her, feeding her, giving her medications, monitoring her medical needs and responding to her emotional needs. Before the pandemic, a companion came for five hours a day, offering some relief. But last March, Corcoran let the companion go and took on all her mother’s care herself.

Corcoran wishes she could get a vaccination sooner, rather than later. “If I got sick, God forbid, my mother would wind up in a nursing home,” she said. “The thought of my mother having to leave here, where she knows she’s safe and loved, and go to a place like that makes me sick to my stomach.”

Although covid cases are dropping in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as residents and staff members receive vaccines, 36% of deaths during the pandemic have occurred in these settings.

Maggie Ornstein, 42, a caregiving expert who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, has provided intensive care to her mother, Janet, since Janet experienced a devastating brain aneurism at age 49. For the past 20 years, her mother has lived with Ornstein and her family in Queens, New York.

In a recent opinion piece, Ornstein urged New York officials to recognize family caregivers’ contributions and reclassify them as essential workers. “We’re used to being abandoned by a system that should be helping us and our loved ones,” she told me in a phone conversation. “But the utter neglect of us during this pandemic — it’s shocking.”

Ornstein estimated that if even a quarter of New York’s 2.5 million family caregivers became ill with covid and unable to carry on, the state’s nursing homes would be overwhelmed by applications from desperate families. “We don’t have the infrastructure for this, and yet we’re pretending this problem just doesn’t exist,” she said.

In Tomball, Texas, Robin Davidson’s father was independent before the pandemic, but he began declining as he stopped going out and became more sedentary. For almost a year, Davidson has driven every day to his 11-acre ranch, 5 miles from where she lives, and spent hours tending to him and the property’s upkeep.

“Every day, when I would come in, I would wonder, was I careful enough [to avoid the virus]? Could I have picked something up at the store or getting gas? Am I going to be the reason that he dies? My constant proximity to him and my care for him is terrifying,” she said.

Since her father’s hospitalization, Davidson’s goal is to stabilize him so he can enroll in a clinical trial for congestive heart failure. Medications for that condition no longer work for him, and fluid retention has become a major issue. He’s now home on the ranch after spending more than a week in the hospital and he’s gotten two doses of vaccine — “an indescribable relief,” Davidson said.

Out of the blue, she got a text from the Harris County health department earlier this month, after putting herself on a vaccine waitlist. Vaccines were available, it read, and she quickly signed up and got a shot. Davidson ended up being eligible because she has two chronic medical conditions that raise her risk of covid; Harris County doesn’t officially recognize family caregivers in its vaccine allocation plan, a spokesperson said.

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Guest Commentary: What the Biden Administration should do in Taliban peace talks

by Ahmad Shah Mohibi

After weeks of increased violence, uncertainty, and a stalemate between the negotiating parties, talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban resumed earlier this week in Doha, amid a looming deadline for US troops to fully withdraw from the country by May of this year. Despite the flurry of historic developments that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past year, the next couple of months will be a critical test for both the momentum of the peace process and the patience of the major players involved.

International Policy For the Biden Administration, the outcome of the dialogue in Doha will be the first major foreign policy challenge, one that will either culminate in a historic agreement or continued entrenchment for what has already been America’s longest war. Public opinion polls conducted amongst a diverse group of American voters suggest that while most have experienced fatigue with the conflict, very few support a complete withdrawal of US troops, even when accounting for partisan differences.

Nevertheless, a full drawdown would likely strengthen the Taliban’s position, and encourage a repeat of the chaos that ensued in the aftermath of the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, and the cessation of Soviet foreign aid in 1991, which quickly brought down the government of Mohammad Najibullah a year later.

The Taliban’s current fighting force (estimated between 40,000-60,000 fighters) would take complete control of Afghan territory, highly unlikely. However, a potential breakdown of the current unity government, buttressed by the Taliban’s enduring connection to both Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province (ISIL-Khorasan), would whet the Taliban’s risk appetite for sustained engagement with the Afghan armed forces as seen in the past months.

Given the fragility of the Ghani government, and waning enthusiasm from the American side, the Biden Administration’s best option is to pursue a compromise that would postpone their scheduled withdrawal in May and buy more time for the negotiators. The US exit from Afghanistan should be condition-based on peace in Afghanistan. The Americans should make it clear to the Taliban that if they don’t want peace, they will stay in Afghanistan.

The most important country for the Taliban in Pakistan, and when Pakistan is under American pressure, it will help the peace process.
At present, US policy toward Afghanistan remains vague, and although President Biden’s approach is expected to be a marked departure from that of his predecessor, it appears unlikely that he will undo either of two signature moves made by the Trump Administration, including the existing withdrawal agreement, and the recent drawdown of American troop levels to their present level of 2,500. Key personnel tied to the current deliberations, most notably US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, are also expected to be retained in the Biden Administration’s foreign policy team.

Presently, Taliban have the upper hand at negotiations, not because of the US-Taliban deal, but because they can simply walk away from the talks and go back fighting. The Doha agreement has defined the US troops withdrawal condition-based so there is no pressure on Taliban at the moment.

The Taliban has also benefited from the successful release of imprisoned fighters, and the international legitimacy that the US peace deal conferred to its organization and its external relations with foreign powers. The recent recess in peace talks saw the Taliban appeal to Iran, Russia, and Turkey in a bid to cultivate support and obstruct US efforts to put pressure on regional actors.

In the event that calls for an interim government (one that would presumably replace Ghani) go unheeded, the opportunity would be ripe for the Taliban to exploit factionalism between Ghani’s supporters and political rivals.

In order to reach the ideal scenario of a postponed withdrawal, the United States will likely have to lean on its existing relationship with state actors in lieu of a direct appeal to the Taliban. While generating strong buy-in from the likes of Russia, Iran, and Turkey is unlikely in the next 2 months, the Biden Administration does possess leverage over the Taliban’s main source of financial support (member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council) and political support (Pakistan). The most important country for the Taliban in Pakistan, and when Pakistan is under American pressure, it will help the peace process. By wielding the threat of sanctions, the United States could fulfill Pakistan’s long-standing demand to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s “grey list”, which would provide relief for Pakistan’s access to global capital markets and encourage foreign direct investment.

The economic argument for peace in Afghanistan has only grown stronger given the presence of lucrative natural resources, particularly mineral wealth, and the favorable location that could help the country generate transit fees from energy projects and improved infrastructure to facilitate trade between East and West Asia. The economic case could be compelling to win support from regional players like Russia, China, Pakistan, and Iran. Afghanistan is a rich country, but the economics only works if everyone is included. The recent commodity boom bodes well for the resources found in Afghanistan, with technology-critical elements like Lithium and Rare Earth Elements in a large abundance.

With little more than 60 days remaining before US troops are scheduled to withdraw, the next set of developments will be a harbinger for the trajectory of the peace process. Sustaining the momentum of the milestones achieved in the past year will require difficult political compromises from a long list of state and non-state actors.

Ahmad Shah Mohibi is the founder of Rise to Peace and also serves as the director of Counter-Terrorism programs. In this role, he conducts research and analyzes policy issues related to terrorism, violent extremism, international security, and peace peacebuilding efforts to help inform the policy practitioners, analysts, the private sector, international and non-governmental organizations. Prior to that, he served as an Advisor to the Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in Afghanistan, where he helped coordinate, implement, and monitor interconnected projects, including the $10 million initiative to build the Justice Center in Parwan.

Southern Illinois farmer to run for the Governor's seat

Southern Illinois farmer and State Senator Darren Bailey, who has been outspoken about Governor J.B. Pritzker's handling of the state's pandemic policies, announced last Monday that he will seek the state's Republican nomination for Governor.

Bailey, who is a third-generation farmer and with his sons, owns and operates Bailey Family Farm. The Republican lawmaker from Xenia, was born and raised in Louisville. He has an A.A.S. in Agricultural Production from Lake Land College in Mattoon.

In a press release he said he "has always lived by the motto of faith, family, and farming."

The 54-year-old's hat is now in a ring along side that of Republican and former Senator Paul Schimpf who announced his candidacy for early last month.

In front of a crowd of hundreds of supporters at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham, he said that Governor Pritzker and Illinois Democrats have failed the people of Illinois and it was time for it to stop.

"There’s nothing that’s wrong with Illinois that can’t be fixed by some conservative common sense. I’ll fight for the working people, not the political elites. Today, there is a political class that is ignoring our values and harming American families. Illinois needs a leader that is one of us," said Bailey, confident that his conservative approach to governing will cure the state's ills.

Bailey is known as a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment conservative, his campaign announcement highlights his previous fight against tax hikes, reckless spending, abortion access expansion, and sanctuary state legislation. Elected to the state legislature in 2018, he is making the reopening of Illinois' economy and schools among his top priorities.

"Illinois is in trouble. We have a massive deficit, some of the highest tax burdens in the entire nation, and skyrocketing unemployment. Add to that career politicians who have used a pandemic to destroy our local economy," he said. "The same people on both sides of the aisle have failed us for decades. They are the elites—the rich and powerful—who have put their interests in front of us; the farmers from downstate, the mechanics from the south side, the hard-working families that have built this state. We can do better."

Endorsed by Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller - who was in the political hot seat and forced to issue a public apology after telling the audience at a rally supporting now ex-president Donald Trump that "Hitler was right on one thing — that whoever has the youth has the future", Bailey is being strategically positioned as the Downstate Messiah. Sworn in as state senator in January, he previously served as a state representative from 2019 to early 2021.

Meanwhile Miller's husband, Republican state Rep. Chris Miller, told the crowd at the rally, "If Darren Bailey is governor of Illinois, then there is a God in Heaven."

Bailey's name became known nationally while challenging Governor Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order almost a year ago last May. With the help of a sympathetic court, Bailey won a temporary restraining order freeing himself only from the restrictions. The decision was later overturned and the case eventually dismissed by a Sangamon County judge in November after it was consolidated with several other challenges to the state's emergency management and public health directives.

The father of four and grandfather to 10 said:

For far too long, citizens of Illinois have been left without a voice. People in Illinois have been divided. We’ve been used. We’ve been mocked. We’ve been marginalized. People in Illinois have been ignored based on their race. They’ve been ignored based on their class. Their ZIP Code. Or by special interests. All while a political class has done absolutely nothing but enrich themselves, while destroying our state and robbing our children and our grandchildren of our future. Friends, this has got to change. And it has got to change today.

The Republican primary election for Illinois Governor will be held on March 15, 2022.

Who wouldn't want their student debt eliminated?

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

The average college debt among student loan borrowers in America is $32,731, according to the Federal Reserve. The majority of borrowers have between $25,000 and $50,000 outstanding in student loan debt. There is an increasing number of student loan borrowers who owe in excess of $100,000. Some, who have spent many years in graduate schools may owe closer to $200,000.

Overall, Americans owe over $1.71 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44.7 million borrowers.

Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other Democrats have put forward a resolution calling on President Joe Biden to forgive $50,000 in student debt. The plan would cancel all of the debt for 80% of federal student loan borrowers.

President Joe Biden campaigned on a platform that included changes for higher education as well as relief for student loan borrowers. On Biden's first day in office, he extended the student loan payment pause through Sept. 30, 2021.

President Biden officials, on Jan. 8, reiterated the President's support for Congress to "immediately" cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt per person as part of Covid-19 relief. That could wipe out debt completely for nearly 15 million borrowers who owe $10,000 or less, according to federal data. The majority of student loan borrowers (roughly 67%) have more than $10,000 in debt.

On February 19th, a group of 17 state Attorney Generals called on Biden to forgive $50,000 in federal student loans per borrower through executive action. The group asserted Biden has the authority to do so under the Higher Education Act.

Professions that pay bigger salaries are worth more the college cost and debt if necessary.
If you have federal student loan debt you are surely hopeful. Who wouldn’t want to have $10,000 to $50,000 of student debt eliminated? However, is this fair for the millions of Americans who spent many years working hard, repaying their loans? What about all the parents who helped their children through school? They worked hard. Do all of America’s graduates and parents receive checks – with interest? Is it fair to penalize the people who worked, scrapped and struggled? Essentially, we are asking the same hard working people who paid for their education to pay for everyone else's education.

The majority of Americans who paid their way through school and paid off all their debt the hard way are not sympathetic to simply waving away the same college debt for others that they worked hard to pay off.

Colleges are much of the problem. For years public Universities have financially lived way beyond their means. Auburn University, Alabama, recently fired head football coach Gus Malzahn and paid him $21.45 million in contract buyout.

Students are poorly advised by high school and college counselors. You will almost never be able to pay back a $50,000 student loan working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant. College students need to look at the earning power of their degree. Professions that pay bigger salaries are worth more the college cost and debt if necessary.

Consider going to a community college your first two years. Federal Pell grants are currently $6,495 a year and may cover almost all the cost of your first two years. You typically don’t have to pay these back. Therefore, the government is already doing a lot.

If your career pursuit pays a reasonable living then consider a going to a University that has a more reasonable tuition cost. And, don’t count on somebody else to pay your loan. However, who knows for sure, maybe Biden will.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


Your life matters

by Gail Strange
Presbyterian News Service
In recognition of Black History Month, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) celebrated Wednesday with a soulful online worship service.

The service began with a virtual rendition of the iconic Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie song, "We Are the World." The song was performed by members of the historic Morgan State University choir. Morgan State University is one of the 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The theme for the service this year was adapted from Maya Angelou’s poem of liberation and survival, "Still I Rise."

In a powerful call to worship alternately led by Jewel McRae, the Rev. Carlton Johnson, the Rev. Alexandra Zareth and the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, (other worship leaders included the Rev. Lee Catoe, Destini Hodges and Angela Carter) worshipers were invited to participate in the service by taking part in the traditional African practice of call-and-response using the term "ase" (or ├ás̩e̩ or ashe; pronounced ah-shay). The term is a West African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and to effect change.

We love Jesus because he took thorns upon his head.
There were poignant readings throughout the call to worship. During this portion of the service Johnson said, "In this season the nation’s character is at stake! In Black History Month help us to realize that Black history is all our histories. May the day come when these stories are so widely taught that no month need be separately divided."

Other moving words during the call to worship included this reading by McRae: "Guided by God, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Ours is a faith that says … you are a woman, and your life matters. You are gay or lesbian, and your life matters. You are transgender, and your life matters. You are bisexual, and your life matters."

The preacher for the morning was the Rev. Michael Moore, Associate for African American Intercultural Congregational Support in the office of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. The focal Scripture for his message was Psalm 27: 1-6.

"In these unprecedented times we get disoriented," Moore said. "How do we find our way back? When I think about Black history and the journey of African American people, I think it is one of the most incredible things."

"It’s this paradox, this paradigm to … the message of tremendous struggle Blacks had and at the same time, we’re able to praise," said Moore. "David’s life is emblematic of it as well. If you think about the life of David, he was a man after God’s own heart. David went through so many different trials, fractured family and being hunted down by Saul. And yet David also had this something in his life that allowed him to go through his struggles and trials and get back up."

"That’s the question I want to ask. What is the something that helps us all in the midst of our struggles, our trials, even our traumas that helps us get back up?" he asked.

Moore went on to relate stories of two significant events in his own life. He shared of a time when he was about 13 and his mother was at the time nearly 50. "I remember being on the corner of Edmondson and Monroe [in Baltimore] and tanks coming down the street. I ran into the house and I saw my mother sitting in the chair and she was watching the news of the assassination of Dr. King," he said.

"I must tell you: I don’t think I had ever seen my mother so hopeless, depressed and in despair. I’ll never forget that moment. The fact is when I actually began to start thinking about Black history and as a people, what it all means, I’m encouraged."

Forty years later, on his mother’s 90th birthday, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. "I remember walking to the house and prior to the election of Barack Obama, my mother declared this country will never elect a Black president. I remember walking in the house that night and when I came in, she was watching when Barack Obama and Michelle Obama walked out on stage, this Black family. People were celebrating and in tears and cheering and what a celebratory moment."

"She was sitting there. I’ll never forget that moment," Moore said, "that moment in Black history where my mother, for the first time, it’s almost as if she had adopted Barack and Michelle Obama and saw her own children. And that all the struggles of our own life were coming to this intersection and that she was watching this family walk out. She put a smile on our face, and she was so happy. She was so joyous it was almost as if she felt like perhaps there is hope."

"That’s the kind of legacy that I think about when we start looking at Black History Month," he said. "When we start thinking about all the dynamic heroes and heroines that came before us who left a foundation for us now to stand on, I realize we sometimes get discouraged and down. But when I think about the journey of so many who have gone before us, who made a road for us to be in the place that we are, I can’t be so discouraged. When you think about your fore parents, your family members, those who paved the way for you and made a sacrifice so that we can be here, I can’t be so discouraged at all," Moore said.

Moore reminded worshipers that as we’re going through this pandemic, which includes racial uprising, tension, political chaos and perhaps feelings of discouragement, there’s "still something."

"I believe the something is the age-old story," Moore said. "It’s not unlike Maya Angelou’s poem where she says, ‘Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise.’"

Moore says rising can also be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We don’t make the cross the center of our faith for no reason. We don’t love Jesus because he’s white or Black or this or that,” Moore said. "We love Jesus because he took thorns upon his head. We love Jesus and make the cross central to our lives. We love Jesus because he put the cross on his back and walked up to Calvary."

"We make the cross central to our faith, not because of our different cultures, not because of where we live, not even for what we think," Moore said. "We love Jesus because he took nails in his hands and nails in his feet. We love Jesus because he hung on a cross — and Jesus rose too."

Five area teams on the court tonight

Both Unity and St. Joseph-Ogden's girls basketball squads face league rivals tonight to kick off the final month of prep basketball.

The Rockets host St. Thomas in a varsity only line-up tonight at the Rocket Center. The game will be available via internet streaming on the NFHS Network. A JV game is not scheduled at this time.

With just four games in the book, the Sabers have a record of 2-2 with wins over Rantoul and Illinois Valley Central (IVC) and nursing to losses, one to St. Joseph-Ogden and the other to Bloomington Central Catholic.

Meanwhile, this week's Basketball Player of the Week Taylor Wells and the St. Joseph-Ogden varsity are on the road tonight at IVC, 1-5 in the IPC and 3-6 overall, looking to end a two-game losing streak. The JV game is slated to start at 5:30pm and the varsity game to follow at 7pm. Unfortunately, neither contest is scheduled for live streaming this evening.

In their last outing, the Spartans varsity squad fell 55-45 in a non-conference bout against Paris on Saturday. Wells, who led the team's scoring effort with nine points along with baskets from eight other players wasn't enough to push past the host Tigers.

Now carrying a record of 4 wins and 1 loss, SJO (5-3 overall) is currently #2 in the Illini Prairie Conference. Bloomington Central Catholic sits at the top with a perfect 6-0 record. The Spartans and BCC will are scheduled to cross paths on March 11.

On the boys side, the Spartan varsity team start the backstretch of this season's and the month at home against the Saints (2-3), who needed two extra sessions to squeak by St. Thomas More 84-74 for their only conference game and win so far this season.

After dropping a heartbreaking 56-54 thriller to Prairie Central on Friday, the Spartans quickly regrouped to pull off a 58-29 non-league win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Saturday. SJO's 3-1 IPC record is good for third place at the moment and is lined up behind Monticello (3-0) and IVC (5-1).

Here are tonight's schedule and direct links to the live streams:

St. Joseph-Ogden Boys Junior Varsity Basketball vs Central Catholic | 5:25 PM Central

St. Joseph-Ogden Boys Varsity Basketball vs Central Catholic | 6:57 PM Central

Unity Girls Varsity Basketball vs St. Thomas More | 7:00 PM Central

If you are not already a subscriber, follow this link sign up for a monthly or annual subscription to watch SJO or Unity sports via live stream or archived by the NFHS Network. Monthly passes are just $10.99 each or save 47% and purchase an annual subscription at $69.99.

Over 150 area businesses aided by loan program

The federal government has provided more than $590 billion dollars to lenders to distribute low-interest loans to the self-employed, businesses, companies and nonprofit organizations affected economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that specializes in investigative journalism, maintains a database listing details of the more than six million loans made nationwide .

More than 200 Illinois companies received PPP loan dollars between $5 and $10 million dollars, the maximum amount. The majority of the 271,921 loans made to businesses in the state went to borrowers that asked for $150,000 dollars or less. As of today, that number stands at 238,281.

The database, which is searchable by name, industry, city and zip code among other criteria, reports that 100 businesses in the St. Joseph 61873 zip code and 52 in Tolono's 61880 were awarded loans. The online resource lists the business name, amount and date the loan was approved.

Information from other loan programs, such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, are currently not reported in the ProPublica resource.

Search for PPP loan applications by organization, lender, zip code and business type.

Budget plan pushes nine new taxes on Illinois tax payers worth nearly $1 billion

by Adam Schuster, Senior Director of Budget and
Tax Research

Illinois Policy

In the annual governor’s budget address on Feb. 17, Gov. J.B. Pritzker presented a $41.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2022 that holds spending flat for education as well as most state operating spending.

Pritzker was tasked with closing a $4.8 billion deficit reported in November 2020, which would have grown to $5.5 billion including a $690 million payment towards recent borrowing from the Federal Reserve.

Pritzker’s budget relies heavily on nine different tax increases, mostly targeted at businesses, to raise $932 million in revenue. In his speech and in documents from the governor’s budget office the tax increases are branded as "closing corporate tax loopholes." However, none of the exemptions or credits Pritzker is proposing to limit or eliminate can be fairly described as "loopholes." Several do not apply exclusively to corporations.

For example, one Pritzker proposal would reduce the value of a tax credit scholarship program that helps disadvantaged students afford private school education through donations from both corporations and individuals. Another of the proposals does not pertain to any type of credit or deduction, but rather reimposes the states’ arcane “corporate franchise tax,” which is scheduled to phase out through 2024 under current law. And another is a new tax on gasolines that is expected to hurt Illinois farmers and add 20 cents per gallon of diesel.

The state budget law requires the governor to propose a budget that is balanced using only revenues in law at the time the budget is proposed. That requirement was ignored in Pritzker’s first and second budget proposals, and these nine new taxes mean it is in his third budget as well.

We urge the governor to stop championing policies that will put Illinoisans on the unemployment lines
Even with these tax increases, Pritzker’s budget proposal is not truly balanced. It includes no reforms to pensions or other structural overspending that would address the state’s long-term deficit. Instead, the budget makes liberal use of budget gimmicks such as changing the timing of payments – moving some debt service back to fiscal year 2021 while pushing other payments farther into the future – and sweeping $565 million from other state accounts. Instead of going to the road fund and capital projects, Pritzker would redirect sales tax revenue from gasoline sales and cigarette tax receipts to the general fund.

Changing the timing of payments allows Pritzker to avoid counting nearly $1 billion in costs toward this year’s budget – $276 million in interfund debt service that was delayed and the $690 million federal reserve borrowing that was moved forward. However, changing the timing of payments does not improve the state’s overall financial condition. It’s an accounting shell game to make the budget appear balanced on paper.

The rest of the deficit is covered by spending freezes worth $1.27 billion and significantly more optimistic revenue assumptions compared to those the governor’s office released in November 2020. Those spending changes are not actual cuts compared to prior-year spending, but rather canceling automatic spending growth that is assumed as part of the state’s baseline budgeting method.

More optimistic revenue projections account for the largest reduction in the deficit, on paper, at $1.88 billion. The governor’s office also raised revenue projections by $2.3 billion for the current fiscal year 2021, which “closes” this year’s $3.9 billion deficit if December’s $2 billion in borrowing from the federal reserve is counted as revenue. Illinois has a history of counting debt as revenue and relying on optimistic revenue projections to cover deficits on paper, but this optimism is often wrong. That helps explain why politicians claim to pass a balanced budget each year, but the budget has not actually ended a year in the black since fiscal year 2001.

While state and local revenue collections in Illinois and across the country have been beating estimates made early in the pandemic, the November revenue projections from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget were already $2.2 billion higher than projected in April 2020. It’s unclear that economic conditions since November have changed enough to justify another large upwards revision.

All together, Pritzker’s budget proposal fails to offer the significant financial reforms needed to protect Illinois taxpayers, preserve services for the vulnerable in the long term and ensure the state has a strong recovery from COVID-19. Illinois’ personal income growth was the second worst in the nation following the Great Recession, in part because of tax hikes that hurt the recovery. Pritzker’s various proposed tax increases on businesses threaten to hold back Illinois’ ability to create good-paying jobs and grow wages for its residents as the state recovers from a pandemic-induced recession.

Lawmakers are largely expected to receive $7.5 billion in unrestricted aid for the state budget from the federal government under the $350 billion state and local bailout proposed by President Biden’s administration. This lifeline provides Illinois with breathing room to make the long-term changes necessary to stabilize state finances, starting with pension reform. The General Assembly should also use that aid to cancel all nine of the pandemic tax increases from the governor’s budget proposal.

Here are Pritzker’s nine tax increase proposals:

Cap, delay credits for business operating losses by three years: $314 million

When a company loses money in a given year, known as a net operating loss, federal and state tax laws generally allow at least some portion of that loss to be carried forward to future years as a proportional offset to future tax liability. In other words, if a business loses money in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, but earns a profit in 2022, it can deduct the two years of losses from its earnings in 2022 and pay taxes only on the difference.

For purposes of state taxes, Pritzker wants to limit losses carried forward to $100,000 for the next three years. Businesses would still be able to carry forward losses above that amount but couldn’t claim the deduction until three years from now.

This change would reduce businesses’ cash on hand to make investments in equipment, new jobs or raises for employees. It would therefore hurt Illinois’ ability to recover economically from COVID-19. Because the full value of the credits is only delayed, it has the potential to create a significant revenue drop in the future when businesses try to collect on the full value of the credits.

Delay expensing of business investments: $214 million

Illinois automatically adopts certain changes in federal tax law as part of Illinois tax law through what’s called “rolling conformity,” meaning state law points back to the Internal Revenue Code and automatically updates certain provisions to match. Pritzker wants to decouple from federal provisions intended to promote pro-growth investments.

Federal tax reform in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included several changes intended to bolster business investments and promote economic growth. One of these changes was to allow full and immediate expensing, meaning companies can deduct the entire cost of an investment in the year it was made, rather than dragging out the expensing over the lifecycle of an asset.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act applied this concept, also called 100% bonus depreciation, to investments with a useable lifetime of 20 years or less, such as machinery and equipment. Long-term investments in buildings must still be expensed over time. The changes for short-term investments are scheduled to phase out beginning in 2022 and expire in 2026. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation has argued for making these changes permanent, because delaying deductions for investments increases the cost to businesses and discourages investments that help grow the economy.

"Stretching depreciation deductions for capital investment over time means a business can’t fully recover the cost of making the investment. This discourages businesses from making productive investments that would otherwise be worthwhile to pursue," the Tax Foundation stated.

Pritzker’s proposed change would immediately revert to the prior system of stretching out the deduction for Illinois taxes, discouraging the very investments that will help Illinois recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Double-tax profits U.S. companies earn abroad: $107 million

Another aspect of federal tax reform in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was to move from a “worldwide” towards a “territorial” corporate tax system, in part to encourage companies to repatriate money held overseas. One of the most important aspects of this reform was to end double taxation on profits U.S. companies earned overseas by allowing a 100% deduction for foreign dividends paid to the parent company. Those profits would have already faced taxation in the country where the income was earned.

Pritzker proposes eliminating the credit for foreign dividends, which could discourage those profits from being repatriated and brought to Illinois if the profits would receive more favorable tax treatment overseas.

New sales tax on biodiesel gasoline: $107 million

Under current law, fuel with a biodiesel content greater than 10% or ethanol content of at least 70% is exempt from Illinois sales taxes. The exemption is scheduled to expire in 2024, but Pritzker would eliminate the credit immediately.

Illinois Fuel and Retail Association CEO Josh Sharp responded: “This change would add approximately 20 cents to a gallon of diesel fuel and is especially egregious considering that Illinois is one of only six states that already imposes a sales tax on motor fuels. Ending this incentive would also be incredibly damaging to our vital agriculture community in Illinois and hurt my small business members at a time when it’s so easy for customers to drive across state lines to fill up their vehicles.”

Limit retailers’ reimbursement for collecting state sales tax: $73 million

Retail stores in Illinois collect and remit sales tax on behalf of the state, which has an administrative cost. To reimburse retailers for this service to the state, current law allows retailers to keep 1.75% of the sales taxes they collect as compensation. Pritzker wants to limit retailers’ reimbursement to $1,000 per month.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said the current 1.75% amount already “only partially reimburses” store owners for their cost. The statement continued, “Shifting more of the cost of administration and collection onto retailers does nothing to support struggling businesses and indicates the governor fails to fully appreciate all that retail contributes to our state, which prior to the pandemic employed one-fifth of all workers in Illinois and served as the second largest revenue generator for state government and the largest revenue generator for local governments.”

Limit manufacturing equipment sales tax exemption: $56 million

The purchase of manufacturing machinery and equipment is generally exempt from Illinois sales taxes. In 2019, this exemption was expanded to include “tangible personal property” used in the manufacturing process, such as fuels, coolants and oil consumed in the manufacturing process. Pritzker is proposing to reverse that recent change.

According to the Sales Tax Institute, the expansion brought Illinois’ manufacturing credits more in line with nearby states.

Illinois’ manufacturing industry has consistently lagged other Midwest states since the Great Recession. Even before COVID-19, Illinois lost 13,100 manufacturing jobs in 2019 – the largest percentage loss of any job sector.

Steve Rauschenberger, president of the Technology and Manufacturing Association, singled out the elimination of this expanded exemption in his reaction to Pritzker’s budget proposal. "We urge the governor to stop championing policies that will put Illinoisans on the unemployment lines and force our job creators and innovators to leave our state to survive," Rauschenberger said.

Cancel phase-out of costly corporate franchise tax: $30 million

Only 16 states still have "capital stock taxes" which tax businesses on their net worth regardless of whether the business is profitable, according to the Tax Foundation. "These taxes impair economic growth in the best of times, but during an economic contraction they are particularly harmful to businesses struggling to remain viable," the Tax Foundation said.

Illinois confusingly refers to its capital stock tax as the “corporate franchise tax,” even though it has nothing to do with franchise businesses. Complying with the tax law is complicated and comes with high compliance costs that are particularly difficult for smaller businesses to manage. The cost of complying with the tax is more than many businesses owe to the state.

The tax was scheduled to phase out over four years before being fully eliminated in 2024 under a law passed in 2019.

Though Pritzker touted the elimination of this tax as an accomplishment of his first year, he is now proposing to reverse the change.

Eliminate credit for creating construction jobs: $16 million

The Blue Collar Jobs Act passed in 2019 created new tax credits to incentivize the creation of construction jobs. Eligible businesses would be able to take a credit worth 50% of the new payroll taxes withheld as the result of a construction job created. That credit rose to 75% if the job was created in an economically distressed area.

Reduce tax scholarship credit for disadvantaged students: $14 million

State lawmakers passed the Invest in Kids Act in 2017 as part of an overhaul of the education funding formula. The program is the state’s first-ever school choice program, and among the largest in the nation. It gives disadvantaged students a chance to go to private schools by giving scholarship donors a 75% tax credit for their donation towards state taxes, incentivizing those donations.

Only students within 300% of the federal poverty line are eligible for the scholarships, and the neediest students are prioritized first.

Pritzker wants to reduce the value of the credit to 40%, which would inevitably mean fewer scholarships available for low-income students.

Empower Illinois, a non-profit that helps match students with scholarships and the appropriate school, responded: "During this challenging time, kids need more quality education options, not fewer. And while Illinois’ financial challenges are significant, the State should not balance its budget on the backs of children from low-income and working-class communities or the schools that serve them so well."

Adam Schuster is the Senior Director of Budget and Tax Research at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles. This story was originally published on February 24, 2021.

Basketball Players of the Week

February 14 - 20, 2021

Sentinel basketball player of the week February 1-6, 2021

~ Boys ~



Kimball tallied 30 points and five rebounds against Paxton-Buckley-Loda and February 20 after dropping another 22 in his team's home court loss to St. Joseph-Ogden.

Honorable Mention:
Nate Drennan, Unity
Evan Ingram, SJO
Ty Pence, SJO

~ Girls ~


St. Joseph-Ogden

Wells led the area girls in scoring with 25 points during Valentine's week. In the Spartans road loss to Tuscola, Wells went 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

Honorable Mention:
Chloe Reed, Unity
Taylor Henry, Unity
Ella Armstrong, SJO

SJO picks up second victory in as many days

After squeaking by Unity the night before 58-51, the Spartans got up the next morning and hit the road to Robinson (3-4) for a non-conference game. Behind the one-two punch of Ty Pence and Evan Ingram, St. Joseph-Ogden closed the book on the contest, 53-43.

Head coach Kiel Duval credited his team's "limiting turnovers and (having) a couple guys stepping up and hitting big shots" as the key factors securing the W on Saturday, February 20. He add, "Ingram and (Andrew) Beyers gave us a huge lift with some big time shots."

A tough game the night before and a long bus ride less that 12 hours later for the Spartans did not lead to a very impressive start against the Maroons.

"I wasn't impressed in the first 3 minutes of the game with how we came out of the gates. We were not ready to play right away," Duval said. "(We) didn't lock into the scouting report or details that we talked about before the game."

After Robinson's Jeff Goble banked one in from inside the free throw lane to put the first digits on the scoreboard, Jackson Rydell found net for the first SJO bucket on a pass from Ingram to tie the score at 2-all in the first quarter.

The Spartans sloppy play contributed to a five point deficit, falling behind 10-5 at one point in the period. During a timeout Duval reminded each player of their role and strategy that was laid for the game. Their focus where it needed to be, the team got it into gear.

"We responded well after that," Duval said. "(They) got stops - made some big buckets when we needed them."

In the final 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the quarter SJO clawed their way back into the contest. Outscoring the Maroons 9-5 and still behind on the scoreboard, the Spartans trailed by one to start the next quarter, 15-14.

The second quarter looked much like first with Robinson pulling ahead by five again. And once again, St. Joseph-Ogden played catch-up basketball until the last 1:10 of the half when a Luke Hutcherson shot passed through the rim to give his team a 24-23 advantage.

The lead was short-lived. Fifty-some seconds later Goble, who finished the game with a team-high 12 points for the Maroons, hit a jumper from in front of the free throw line to give his team a 25-24 halftime lead. Gobel went on to lead his team's scoring effort with 12 points and secured nine of team's 25 total rebounds.

After the two teams returned to play the second half, St. Joseph-Ogden would go on to outscore the Robinson 29-18 to stretch their perfect record to 5-0.

Pence led all scorers with 16 points for the Spartans, eight of those from inside the free throw lane. The sophomore had 10 rebounds and was credited with one assist.

Ingram led the team in steals with two and qualified as the game's second leading scorer with 13 points. Beyer added another needed 12 points to the SJO cause.

Box Score

Robinson 15 10 5 13 - 43
St. Joseph-Ogden 14 10 14 15 - 53

Gilmore 3 (0) 4-4 -- 10, Goblee 6 (0) 0-0 -- 12, Jackson 4 (0) 0-0 -- 8, Johnson 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, King 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, N. Weber 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Shindler 2 (0) 3-5 -- 7.

St. Joseph-Ogden
Brazelton 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Costa 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Hutcherson 2 (1) 0-2 -- 7, Smith 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Burch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Grindley 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Wetzel 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rydell 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Beyers 4 (0) 4-4 -- 12, Atwood 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Pence 4 (1) 5-7 -- 16, Ingram 0 (4) 1-2 -- 13.

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