Reports

It Is All About the Revenue: Why Both Current FY2016 General Fund Budget Proposals Fall Short

Release: August 12, 2015

This Report provides a detailed analysis of both Governor Bruce Rauner’s and the General Assembly’s two very different proposals for the FY2016 General Fund budget. Both budget proposals would cut services and increase the state’s deficit due to the phase down of the temporary tax increases in the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates that became effective on January 1, 2015. Collectively, those income tax rate cuts will cause Illinois’ General Fund to lose $4.6 billion in recurring revenue over the course of the full fiscal year.

Issue Brief: Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services

Release: May 20, 2015

This report identifies why expanding the base of the state sales tax to include consumer services—like pet grooming, haircuts, country club membership, health clubs, and lawn care—would simultaneously help to stabilize revenue generation for the state’s fiscal system, while reforming tax policy to comport with the modern economy. 

As detailed in the report, Illinois is one of 45 states that impose a general sales tax. And while the state-only sales tax rate of 5 percent is below the national average state-only sales tax rate of 5.5 percent, Illinois’ sales tax rate is applied, in large part to the sale of goods (like clothing and furniture) and not services (like pet grooming, health clubs, lawn care, and haircuts). Illinois’ sales tax applies to few services. In fact, of the 45 states with a general sales tax, the average number of service industries taxed is 51; Illinois is an outlier, taxing only five consumer service industries. And that is why the state’s sales tax policy fails to jibe with the modern economy. Indeed, over 72 percent of the Illinois’ economy is derived from the sale of services, while just 17 percent stems from the sales of goods.

Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services Will Both Modernize State Tax Policy and Help Stabilize Revenue, estimates that $2.105 billion in additional revenue could be generated if Illinois’ sales tax base was expanded to include primarily consumer service industries, while excluding business-to-business transactions and professional services. This could go a long way toward addressing the state’s fiscal difficulties. The report also notes that by broadening the state’s sales tax base, Illinois may also be able to reduce the state’s sales tax rate if policy makers so choose. 

UPDATED: Illinois Property Taxes

Release: May 14, 2015

This Issue Brief is an update to a 2007 Brief, and provides an overview of who pays property taxes in Illinois, the steps in the property tax cycle, and what property tax revenue is used for. 

How Revenue and Spending Impact the Illinois General Fund

Release: May 6, 2015

PowerPoint presented by Ralph Martire at the Senate Revenue Hearing.

Analysis of Indiana School Choice Scholarship Program

Release: April 16, 2015

Recently, a number of states and cities across America have incorporated elements of school choice into their education systems in the hopes of improving student achievement. Starting in 2011 and expanded in 2013, Indiana joined this movement by enacting three bills—House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001, HEA 1002 and HEA 1003—which, when taken together, create one of the more comprehensive school choice programs in the nation (collectively the “Indiana Choice Legislation”).  At its core, the Indiana Choice Legislation utilizes public tax dollars to subsidize school choice. These subsidies come in the form of vouchers, state income tax deductions and state income tax credits.

Indiana’s goal of enhancing student achievement is laudable.  It also directly coincides with growing national concern over the academic performance of America’s school children as measured under respected, international benchmarks like the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) “Programme for International Student Assessment” (PISA) exam.  Indeed, in the most recent PISA exams, the performance of America’s children (considered as a whole) came in at just 27th in math, 20th in science, and 17th in reading.

The question for policy makers in Indiana then, is can Indiana expect its school choice program to enhance student performance or help build a better public education system statewide?

This paper will not utilize in its analysis studies conducted by organizations with a clear bias, be it pro-voucher or anti-voucher. It instead draws on objective, peer-reviewed analyses. The goal is to answer two key questions about the Indiana Choice Legislation as objectively as possible.

First, does the actual documented track record of existing voucher programs demonstrate that those programs in fact achieved the desired goal of enhancing student achievement? Here, the short and clear answer is no.

Second, can voucher programs be expected to enhance student performance or improve public education systems, based on the education reforms implemented in the nations that currently rank in the top five in the world in reading, math, and science under PISA? Again, based on the evidence, the answer is no.

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