CTBA in the News

January 29, 2016Chicago Magazine

In his State of the State address Wednesday, Bruce Rauner made his case against raising taxes, or against raising taxes without structural reforms that include aspects of his “turnaround agenda,” or …  something.

[But we can’t just raise taxes again. We know that doesn’t work. While the 2011 tax hike was in place, our credit rating was downgraded five times, we barely made a dent in our bill backlog, state support for schools was cut, our unfunded pension liabilities went up $28 billion, and our economic growth fell to almost half the national average. Raising taxes without improving our ability to compete will not help the people of Illinois, and in fact, it will make things worse.]

He’s not specifically saying that raising taxes made the state’s fiscal health worse, just that we can’t “just” raise taxes again, which I suspect lots of people would broadly agree with. Rauner has agreed to allow Democrats to raise taxes if they pass  his desired reforms, though he was critical of the idea. Nonetheless, the litany of measures he mentions in the wake of the tax increase arguably implies that it was a failure.

So, is he right?

“Some of it is technically true,” says Amanda Kass, research director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. “But it’s misleading.”

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January 27, 2016State Journal Register

What happens when elected officials abdicate their primary responsibility to govern?

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December 17, 2015State Journal-Register

Last week during arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas, Justice Antonin Scalia mused that perhaps African American applicants to the university might be better off in a “slower track” school.

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December 7, 2015Public News Service

Congress soon will break for the holidays, but there's still a big issue on the table whether or not to make permanent or even just extend parts of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. 

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Chicago-based Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, says the credits have had support from both sides of the political aisle because it's an economic driver for low-income families.

"Every additional dollar they get, whether it's in direct income or, in this case, through a tax credit, they spend in their local community," says Martire. "So, that then becomes the income of the dry cleaner or the grocery store."

Still, some House Republicans say many people are abusing the tax credits with fraudulent claims. Congress may decide on the tax extenders before lawmakers adjourn for the holidays on Dec. 18. 

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December 4, 2015Chicago Sun-Times

167 Chicago Public Schools principals: Save our schools now

If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.” – Marian Wright Edelman

Principals throughout Chicago are anticipating substantial budget cuts in the coming weeks. These cuts will come soon after previous budget cuts earlier this fiscal year and after decreasing budgets over successive school years. For too long, students in the Chicago Public Schools have been asked to do more with less, and they are suffering.

Somewhere in all of the headlines about elections, budget stalemates, contract negotiations, and worst of all, impropriety within our district, we have lost focus on talking about who is impacted every time a dollar is diverted from a school district.

Conversations in Springfield and at City Hall must start with a focus on providing a better education for our children.

We are calling for our elected state officials to:

  • Act now. End the stalemate in Springfield.
  • Pledge to vote against any bill that includes a pension holiday. Our children need long-term stability, not future uncertainty.
  • Look to the nonpartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability for common sense ideas:
  • Generate revenue through expansion of sales tax to include consumer services.
  • Increase the personal income tax rates rolled back on Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Scrap the unrealistic ‘pension funding ramp’ and re-amortize the state’s unfunded pension liabilities into level-dollar annual payments. When school districts are forced to allocate more and more for pension liabilities, less and less goes to children.
  • Fund the Chicago Public Schools fairly. Our district makes up 20 percent of the state’s school enrollment. Our students should receive 20 percent of the state’s spending on education.

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November 23, 2015The Journal-News

Out of 25 coal producing states, Illinois is just one of three that does not have a coal severance tax, a simple excise fee placed on the value of Illinois coal that could bring substantial revenues back to communities and to state coffers.  A small tax could fund job-creating projects in coal-

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November 19, 2015State Journal-Register

CTBA's Executive Director Ralph Martire explains how sometimes the way to spend fewer tax dollars is by raising taxes. Using the Illinois Finance Authority to issue bonds to cover current operating costs will end costing taxpayers more than simply raising the appropriate amount of revenue

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November 17, 2015State Tax Notes

Illinois provides perhaps the best example of a sales tax system that has not changed with the economy and thus is failing in some key respects. According to a Federation of Tax Administrators survey conducted in 2007 and cited by virtually every analyst of service taxes, Illinois taxes fewer services than almost every other state.

Most recently, in May the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois issued an unprecedented joint ‘‘Issue Brief ’’ in which they called for taxing additional services. The brief argued that expanding the sales tax base would ‘‘improve the long-term stability of the state’s fiscal system’’ because it would allow the sales tax ‘‘to comport with both the modern economy and the principles of sound tax policy.’’

The case for modernizing the sales tax in Illinois is compelling.

 

November 12, 2015Debtwire

The clock is ticking for the City of Chicago’s police and fire pension reform, which is at risk of remaining on Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk past the city’s deadline for passing a property tax
high enough to properly fund the systems. 

The Illinois legislature still needs to send SB777—Chicago’s police and fire pension reform estimated to save the city USD 220m next year—to the Governor for his signature, who would
have 60 days to veto legislation. Illinois lawmakers passed the bill in June but did not send it to Rauner, as reported. The political play complicates matters for the Windy City, which already passed a budget pegged to a favorable outcome of this bill, and is simultaneously facing legal backlash on its municipal and laborer pension reform. 

“Since we are now into November, it’s possible for Governor Rauner to sit on the bill until after the New Year,” said Bobby Otter, a budget director at the Center for Tax and Budget
Accountability. “If that were to happen, Chicago will miss the deadline for setting the appropriate property tax levy for next year.”

The bill saves the city USD 850m over the next five years, and extends the period of time that the city has to fully fund its retirement plans, as reported. The city has also pegged its USD
543m property tax increase to these tenuous savings. 

November 4, 2015Chicago Defender

During the darkest hours of Mayor Emanuel’s runoff campaign, he worked hard to downplay the looming property tax hike that many insiders knew was inevitable. Last Wednesday, that inevitability became reality when the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Emanuel’s $588 million tax increase. In

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