CTBA in the News

February 16, 2016Debtwire

Illinois lawmakers may have to find other creative ways to manage its cash flow. The state’s revenues through FY19 are projected to dwindle by 4.5% to USD 34.2bn in FY19 from USD 35.8bn in FY15 as its expenditures rise by 11.1% to USD 39.3bn in FY19 from USD 35.4bn in FY15, according to the three-year budget projection.

While the General Assembly passed and the governor signed a K-12 education budget for FY16, it is possible for the state, via the Illinois State Board of Education, to lower their payments to school districts in coming months to manage cash flow issues, said the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability’s Bobby Otter. Most of those funds are considered grants.

Illinois lawmakers passed legislation to help the state with cash flow issues under former Governor Quinn, giving the state six months rather than two months to catch up on the last fiscal year’s contractual obligations. The state has already been tapping this law to manage cash flow and plans to use this mandate again, said the comptroller’s spokesperson. 

Last year, the Illinois legislature swept a number of different funds in order to make it through the fiscal year. The state legislature could do this again, Otter said. However, this would require
an agreement between the general assembly and governor, Otter said.

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February 15, 2016Pantagraph

One thing on which lawmakers from both parties agree is that while state law requires the governor to present his budget plan for next year, Rauner’s speech needs to focus on resolving the current impasse, too.

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February 13, 2016The Southern Illinoisan

SPRINGFIELD — One week after President Barack Obama called for bipartisan compromise in a speech before the Illinois General Assembly, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday will address that still deeply divided body about his plan for next year’s state budget.

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February 5, 2016Daily Herald

Ever hear the old adage: "Money is the root of all evil"? Of course you have, it's a classic. Current events in Illinois, however, suggest it should be updated. Because in our great state, it's pretty clear that a lack of money is just as, if not more, pernicious. For proof, just consider the recent proposal to allow the Chicago Public Schools to declare bankruptcy.

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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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