Illinois PIRG Latest Blog Posts

States are spending billions of dollars per year on corporate tax credits, cash grants and other economic development subsidies that often require little if any job creation and lack wage and benefit standards covering workers at subsidized companies. These are the key findings of Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs, a 51-state “report card” study published by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.

It has been over 90 days (93 to be exact) since Mayor Emanuel's TIF Task Force released their recommendations on how to reform the broken system of economic development. And when they did, the Mayor said that he planned to fully implement them.

So, how much progress has been made so far? Very little.

Today, the Illinois Legislature will most likely pass Senate Bill 397 and approve a tax break for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) to the tune of $100 million a year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced his budget with a pledge to end the smoke and mirrors, and as it passed unanimously, aldermen celebrated a 'new day' for the City. But despite some improvement to end past gimmicks, the budget still includes misleading accounting tricks that hide a tax increase from public scrutiny.

.... the more they stay the same.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Mayor Emanuel is taking a page out of Mayor Daley's playbook by not providing public records (government cellphone bills and emails, specifically)  that the Tribune requested by claiming that "providing them is unduly burdensome."

No one likes getting traffic tickets. But a new research that we released today will make you dislike them even more.

'Tis the season to... fill gaping budget deficits.

Cook County is facing a budget deficit of $315 million, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled her plan to fill it yesterday.

Our nation faces enormous fiscal challenges. As part of the deal that was recently struck to raise America’s debt ceiling, Congress established a new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to narrow the total budget gap by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. This “Super Committee” must report its findings by Thanksgiving, and if a majority of its 12 members support its conclusions, both houses of Congress will consider the resulting legislation under expedited procedures by December 23, 2011.

I am in the process of rereading "Boss," the hard-hitting biography of Richard J. Daley that chronicles his rise to power, written by renowned journalist Mike Royko. It's a captivating read, and I highly recommend it.

The part I read yesterday takes place after Daley got sworn into office (1955), and is figuring out how to gain as much power and influence as possible to secure his 20+ year rein. His first step was to convince the Republican legislators down in Springfield to help him increase the sales tax and a create a new utility tax. Then, once the money starts pouring in, it gets interesting.

Mayor Emanuel is presenting his 2012 budget to the City Council tomorrow morning. Word on the street is that among a grab bag of fixes from fee hikes to grid-based garbage collection, he is planning on using 20 percent of unallocated tax increment financing (TIF) funds to infuse the City with an extra $15 million and give the schools a boost of $30 million.