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CTBA experts are available to provide insight, analysis, and data to the press on a wide range of public policy issues. In addition, CTBA disseminates new research and timely updates on policy developments to the media.

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March 22, 2016Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune reports on a financial maneuver by the City of Chicago that may result in a significant budgetary shortfall next year. The city's 2016 budget makes the assumption that the Governor will sign SB 777, which extends the time in which the police and firefighters' pension funds

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March 17, 2016Illinois Times

Individuals with criminal backgrounds experience a greater disadvantage in transitioning back into society. Ex-offenders face a magnitude of restrictions during their probationary period, including limited employment opportunities and exclusion from receiving support with basic needs such as

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March 16, 2016Daily Herald

It appears likely Illinois won't get a final General Fund budget for FY2016 -- which ends in just over three months. This has numerous consequences, none good. Clearly, not passing a General Fund budget harms families and communities statewide. What isn't so clear is why this budgetary failure

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February 23, 2016Reboot Illinois

ILLINOIS STATE BUDGET CRISIS AT A GLANCE: REVENUE DOWN, SPENDING UP, NO ONE IN CONTROL AND NO END IN SIGHT

BACKDROP: Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his 2016 Budget Address on Feb. 17. He’s in an awkward situation: The Budget Address is intended as a preview of the Illinois state budget for fiscal year 2017, which starts July 1. State government has yet to adopt a budget for FY 2016, which started last July 1.

Making matters worse, without a budget to cut spending or raise more revenue, state government since July 1 has been spending far more than it’s taking in. Taxpayers will have to make up the difference whenever Rauner and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly pass a budget. The longer the current budget impasse continues, the bigger the hit on taxpayers will be. And with indications now that all sides are squeamish about voting on any tax increases before the Nov. 4 elections, we could be well into FY 2017 before we even begin to pay down the state’s debts of FY 2016.

Here’s a quick look at how things stand as Rauner delivers his second Budget Address without having signed his first budget.

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February 18, 2016Social Justice News Nexus

Much of Wednesday’s discussion centered on the legacy of the Plan for Transformation, a controversial chapter of Chicago’s public housing history. In 2000, the city embarked on a $1.6 billion initiative to tear down its beleaguered public high-rises, pledging to replace them with 25,000 new or rehabilitated units in “mixed-income” communities. While more than 18,000 units were demolished in the plan’s first decade, rebuilding is now nearly six years behind schedule and still inching towards completion. Advocates say that CHA’s policies have driven thousands of poor, Black residents out of the city.

“Six years later, we’re still short 2,000 units,” said Dearborn Homes resident Etta Davis, a supporter of the ordinance. “We listened to CHA when they said they had a plan, but now we’re asking for a promise in writing.”

Chicago’s own staggering reserves were discovered in 2014, after a series of public records requests turned up some murky accounting, said Amanda Kass, an analyst at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and another proponent of the ordinance. According to her organization’s analysis, between 2008 and 2012 the agency squirreled away much of the federal money allocated for housing vouchers, issuing 13,000 fewer vouchers than it could have each year.

Instead, her organization discovered, the CHA quietly used $250 million of reserves to pay down its debt early, earning it the highest credit-rating of any public housing agency nationwide. While that makes it an attractive prospect for investors and could entail long-term savings, advocates argue it does little to advance the agency’s core mission of providing housing to Chicago residents.

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February 17, 2016Daily Herald

Illinois faces two fiscal challenges: a large backlog of unpaid bills and even larger unfunded pensions.

With Gov. Bruce Rauner previewing his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 (which starts in July), we took a look at three existing proposals for solving the state's budget crisis.

The proposals are from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the Illinois Policy Institute and the Institute for Illinois Fiscal Sustainability at the Civic Federation.

See how they compare.

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February 17, 2016Progress Illinois

As the budget battle in Illinois continues, a government watchdog group says the state's finances have been running on "autopilot."

Gov. Bruce Rauner is to give his second budget address today to lay out priorities for next year - but the state has been operating for about eight months without a budget for the current fiscal year.

Bobby Otter, budget director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, helped author a new report that shows that if lawmakers continue to do nothing, more than $3 billion could be slashed from core services, including higher education.

"Not one elected official, be it in the General Assembly or the governor, has actually had to vote on that or sign that into law," he said. "They're kind of abdicating and punting their responsibilities here."

The report, titled "Illinois on Autopilot," also showed that even without an official budget on the books, state spending levels still are at about 90 percent. That's mostly to pay for health care and other court-ordered services.

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February 17, 2016Aldertrack

The City Council’s Housing Committee will hold a hearing this morning on an ordinance that seeks to give City Council more oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority and ensure the agency uses its resources to address the city’s public housing shortage.

The “Keeping The Promise” ordinance drafted by Ald. Joe Moreno (1) in partnership with the Chicago Housing Initiative, a coalition of community organizations that work with low-income renters, accuses the CHA of failing to spend hundreds of millions in federal funds between 2009 and 2013. Citing data from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) in the preamble of the ordinance, Ald. Moreno accuses the CHA of not circulating roughly 13,000 funded housing vouchers and leaving 4,600 public housing units vacant over the same four-year period.

February 17, 2016Public News Service

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - As the budget battle in Illinois continues, a government watchdog group says the state's finances have been running on "autopilot."

Gov. Bruce Rauner is to give his second budget address today to lay out priorities for next year - but the state has been operating for about eight months without a budget for the current fiscal year.

Bobby Otter, budget director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, helped author a new report that shows that if lawmakers continue to do nothing, more than $3 billion could be slashed from core services, including higher education.

"Not one elected official, be it in the General Assembly or the governor, has actually had to vote on that or sign that into law," he said. "They're kind of abdicating and punting their responsibilities here."

The report, titled "Illinois on Autopilot," also showed that even without an official budget on the books, state spending levels still are at about 90 percent. That's mostly to pay for health care and other court-ordered services.

While that might have some people thinking the state has been spending less overall, Otter said, it's not actually the case. Illinois is on track to spend much more than it takes in, to the tune of about $2 billion. Otter is encouraging the governor and lawmakers to either raise taxes or find strategic cuts and then actually vote on them.

"One of the main jobs of our elected officials is to make those hard decisions, if we need more revenue, than to raise more revenue," he said. "Or, if we don't have enough revenue, then what services will have to be scaled back or cut."

The center, along with trade groups such as the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, has suggested that Illinois could help close its budget gap by taxing service industries.

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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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