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Charles N. Wheeler III, director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield explains by he thinks taxes should go up in Illinois. 

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September 23, 2015State Journal-Register

Last year, Illinois implemented a new standardized test to assess student achievement. Known as "PARCC" -- which stands for "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers" -- the test is supposed to measure how well students have mastered the relatively new "Common Core" curriculum. 

The initial PARCC results are in, and absolutely no one is happy with the numbers. Under PARCC, only 38 percent of Illinois' eighth grade students met or exceeded standards in English, with just 31 percent doing so in math. In high school, 31 percent met or exceeded English standards, while just 17 percent satisfied math standards, with no students exceeding.

Before the uninformed blame-game begins in earnest, let's balance the PARCC results with a little perspective.

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September 22, 2015CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel told aldermen Tuesday the city must raise property taxes by $543 million to shore up police and firefighter pension funds, or face laying off thousands of firefighters and police officers.

The mayor’s budget plan includes phasing in that $543 million property tax over the next four years, with the bulk of it scheduled for this year. He also proposed a new garbage collection fee, and a bevy of other new taxes and fees, as he aims to eliminate the city’s structural budget deficit, and solve the city’s pension crisis. Emanuel also called for an additional $45 million property tax hike to fund school construction.

If approved by at least 26 aldermen, the mayor’s budget plan would amount to what analysts have called the largest property tax hike in modern Chicago history.

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September 9, 2015Progress Illinois

Eugene Jones, acting CEO at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), is facing some criticismafter recently describing the proposed "Keeping the Promise Ordinance" as a "waste of time." 

The proposed Chicago ordinance is aimed at providing the city council with greater oversight of the CHA.

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September 4, 2015Gazette Chicago

Former Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) residents from the Dearborn, Ickes, and Wentworth Gardens Homes, along with community organizers, protested outside 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell’s office on August 6 because the City of Chicago has transferred public CHA land to commercial interests.

Protesters called for aldermen and the CHA to place a moratorium on all land swaps and sales of public housing land and to create a plan for replacement housing. Promises of replacement housing since the CHA demolished highrise developments between 1996 and 2010 mostly have gone unrealized, protesters said.

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September 2, 2015Next City

American cities continue to flirt with legalizing casinos, one Chicago nonprofit is raising its hand for potential gaming revenues in the Windy City.

A NEW REPORT from the Health & Disabilities Advocates makes the case that since depression, alcohol and other health risks can be linked to gambling, income from casinos, if any were to ever open in Chicago, should help fund the city’s struggling mental health system.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business:

Illinois’ spending on mental health declined $187 million from 2009-12, and another $82 million in cuts now is on the table, the report said. State lawmakers have yet to pass a budget for a fiscal year that began two months ago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that if Chicago did allow casinos, revenue would likely be funneled toward the city’s police and firefighter pension funds. But mental healthcare advocates argue that they have a dire need too.

“Public services in Illinois statewide are underfunded for the most part, but they are particularly underfunded when it comes to things like mental health,” Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, told Crain’s.

Undoubtedly, there’d be a long line for a cut of funds should the city ever get gambling, which, experts say, is a long shot at best.

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August 24, 2015WTTW Chicago Tonight

Change in Corporate Income Tax Floated

“Tax loopholes

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August 20, 2015Bloomberg Business

Illinois has gone 49 days without a spending plan since the fiscal year started July 1 and there’s no end in sight. Rauner, the state’s first Republican governor in 12 years, and the Democrat-led legislature can’t agree on how to fix a $6.2 billion deficit that was left after temporary tax

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August 18, 2015Northern Public Radio

A recent analysis found that both the budget proposal from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the one approved by Democratic lawmakers would leave the state with a more than $9 billion deficit.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, says that neither plan takes into account the shortfall from last fiscal year. 

"The budget deficit carry forward from 2015 into 2016 is going to be $5.9 billion,” Martire said. “That will appear nowhere on state financial records. They won't have a balanced budget. Let's just be honest."


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August 18, 2015WBEZ

….  Morning Shift to Gov. Rauner: Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has ripped your plan and he’s ripped the Democrats’ plan. His criticism of the Dems is that they’re spending money that isn’t there. His criticism of you is that

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