Institute of Government and Public Affairs

Taxes
3:17 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

Gas Tax Fails To Keep Pace With Infrastructure Needs

Credit flickr/MikeMozart

Don Fullerton is associate director of IGPA for Urbana-Champaign and a member of the IGPA faculty. He is an expert on tax policy, energy and environmental policy issues. Julian Reif is an expert in health economics and policy.

They wrote the following op-ed.

Last year, the Panzier Lane bridge in Jefferson County collapsed while a truck was driving over it. The driver was unharmed, but as reconstruction began last month, officials estimated it will cost more than half a million dollars to repair.

Read more
Statehouse
8:24 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Expert: Why We Need Redistricting Reform

Credit WSIU

Brian Gaines has watched Illinois politics for 20 years.  The political scientist is with the University of Illinois's Institute for Government and Public Affairs. He says the current system of drawing legislative and congressional maps is bad and he hopes reformers can do something before the next re-map in 2020.

Gaines says there is too little transparency and too few people are involved.  The current map for Illinois' congressional district he says was created to help Democrats.   He says the public is not well served by maps that engineer outcomes. 

Read more
Election 2014
7:34 am
Sat September 27, 2014

Mike Lawrence: The Compelling Challenge Of Rehabbing Illinois

Mike Lawrence
Credit IGPA

The following is an op-ed written by Mike Lawrence for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  Lawrence was a longtime journalist, Press Secretary for Gov. Jim Edgar and later directed the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are having a brawl -- trash-talk and all. So, it's less likely with every gouge and grunt, that either will focus on rescuing Illinois until after the election -- if then.

Read more
Op-Ed
3:47 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Chris Mooney: More Evidence-Based Policymaking Needed

Chris Mooney
Credit IGPA

Chris Mooney is Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  The following is an article he authored:

Prisons vastly are overcrowded. College tuition is rising fast. Roads and bridges are crumbling. Public pensions are on the verge of disaster.

Why is Illinois state government so inept? While public problems are inherently difficult to solve, Illinois seems to be particularly adrift these days.

Read more
Budget FY15
10:10 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

Interfund Borrowing No One's First Choice For Budgeting

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

Read more
Statehouse
9:00 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Former Lawmaker Says Change Is Needed In State Budgeting

Rick Winkel
Credit IGPA

Rick Winkel served in the legislature from 1995 to 2003.  Now he is Director of the Office of Public Leadership at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

He wrote a recent op-ed that criticizes how budgeting is done.  He said more transparency is needed, including data that is easier for people outside of government to understand.

"When that data is available and provided openly, understandably so it's concise and legible and put in a format that's consistent," he said.  "Opening up the process before decisions are made and afterward."

Read more
Education Desk
8:15 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Professor Says Higher Ed Spending Brings Long Term Benefits

Walter McMahon
Credit IGPA

Illinois budget cutting has targeted higher education for more than a decade.   But a professor who has studied funding for colleges says it actually leads to more state financial problems.
 

Walter McMahon is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Illinois.  He says more investment would serve the state well in the future.

McMahon's column below on higher education spending is part of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs' Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox.

Read more
Statehouse
9:04 am
Wed April 16, 2014

The Vanishing Millionaire Tax

Brian Gaines
Credit IGPA

House Speaker Michael Madigan pulled his plan for a so-called "millionaire tax" last week.   The plan would have raised taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, with the proceeds going to schools.  It would have required a constitutional change. 

Professor Brian Gaines has studied the idea.  He's with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  He called Madigan's change of heart a bit surprising:

Brian Gaines' essay on the "millionaire tax" -

Read more
Budget
10:40 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Expert Says State Of Illinois Needs Better Financial Planning

Nancy Hudspeth
Credit IGPA

Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges.  Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services. 

But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning.  Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed.  She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:

 

Better fiscal planning tools could improve Illinois’ budget process

Read more
State Budget
6:15 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Sin Taxes Won't Solve Illinois' Budget Troubles

Prof. Julian Reif
Credit IGPA

When Illinois lawmakers are in need of more revenue, they often turn to sin.  

Sin taxes, that is. 

Those are taxes placed on items that can be considered undesirable, like cigarettes, alcohol or gambling.  

Read more
Statehouse
7:19 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Illinois Pays Penalty For Bad Fiscal Image

Professor Martin Luby
Credit igpa

When it comes to finances, the State of Illinois has a poor reputation.   New research shows how the state's negative perception is costing taxpayers. 

Illinois already has the worst credit rating among states.  And while that adds to the cost of borrowing money, Illinois winds up paying even more because investors view it as risky of default.

Read more
Public Policy
8:52 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Across The Board Budget Cutting Is Not So Simple

Credit IGPA

When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts.   It's easy to understand.  it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.

WUIS'  Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.   Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. 

Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.

Read more
General Assembly Calendar
7:28 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers' Light Spring Calendar Allows For Campaigning

  Legislators will descend on the capital city Wednesday, to hear the governor's annual state-of-the-state address. It's the first day they'll be in Springfield this year.

The General Assembly had a jam-packed 2013. It started with new members being sworn into office, and ended with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage and overhauling state pensions.

Read more
New IGPA Report
7:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Budget Gap To Increase Despite Pension Overhaul

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge.  But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem.  That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.

Read more
Fiscal Focus
4:30 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Report: Deficit Expected Even If Tax Hike Stays

Credit flickr/borman18

  Even if Illinois keeps its higher income tax rate, a new report projects the state is headed toward deficit spending. 

Illinois residents are paying a 5-percent tax on their income. It's been that way since 2011.

According to a new report from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, that tax money helped balance Illinois' budget this year.

But economist David Merriman, who directed the project, says that won't last.

Read more