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Quick Hit
by Adam Doster
Mon Sep 13, 2010

Making The Lottery Less Regresssive

Like some of the state's leading diversity organizations, the State Journal-Register thinks that Gov. Pat Quinn should select Camelot Group to operate Illinois' lottery system when he makes his decision later this week. Here's why:

[Camelot Illinois CEO Jeff] Perlee noted also that in Chicago, 18 of the top 20 lottery retailers are located in low-income neighborhoods. In England, the top sellers are supermarkets in affluent suburbs. That’s because “they have a fundamentally different way to approach to the business and present what the lottery is to the marketplace than what has been followed here,” Perlee said.

Fixing this dynamic should be the key job of any new private manager given this new and lucrative state contract. A 10-year analysis of Illinois lottery records conducted by the Chicago Reporter in 2007 found that low-income Chicago communities generated the highest lottery sales in the state. Too often, the lottery serves as a quasi-regressive tax on poor players who substitute the game for more expensive entertainment forms or see it as a rare opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. If the program is to expand, that has to change.

Quick Hit
by Adam Doster
Thu Sep 9, 2010

How Should We Close That State Deficit, Mr. Kirk?

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk may be running for the U.S. Senate, but he sure has a lot of opinions about state government. When the North Shore Republican launched his campaign last year, a major theme he hit on was rooting out corruption in Illinois, a task we thought might be difficult to tackle for a pol stationed in Washington. Today, Kirk released a new ad criticizing Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias for his thoughts on Illinois' budget deficit. "Quinn and Giannoulias agree," the ad begins. "Your taxes should go up." Watch it:

If Kirk is going to use Illinois' income tax rate as a talking point throughout the fall, it seems fair for reporters to ask the "deficit hawk" how he would close the state's deficit without raising new revenue. If his answer is good, perhaps Bill Brady can learn a thing or two from his fellow statewide nominee.

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Wed Sep 8, 2010

Converting Foreclosures Into Affordable Housing With TIF (VIDEO)

A new report finds that federal resources to address the home foreclosure crisis aren't commensurate with the need and argues for using Chicago's TIF dollars to convert foreclosed properties into affordable housing.

PI Original
by Adam Doster
Tue Aug 31, 2010

Is Brady's Jobs Agenda Bad For Illinois' Economy?

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady has a gameplan for attracting 700,000 new jobs to Illinois. Will it work?

Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Mon Aug 30, 2010

Fritchey To Run For Mayor?

Over the last few months, State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) has emerged as the leading state legislator calling for a new approach to the City of Chicago's tax increment financing program. He has introduced legislation in the General Assembly that would send unused TIF dollars back to various government agencies at the end of each fiscal year, a move that would erode Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's control over the TIF districts and the money they contain. The Board of Education alone could get some $535 million if the proposal was passed out of Springfield and signed into law, Fritchey says.

A story published today by the Chicago News Cooperative says that the North Side representative is now mulling more than reform of Daley's TIF empire. Fritchey, the News Cooperative reports, has "added his name to the list of politicians who say they are considering challenging" the mayor in the Feb. 22, 2011 municipal primary election. Fritchey had this to say about the mayor's style:

People want intelligent debate on decent proposals. They are tired of being told, ‘This is what we are doing, here is the deal, take it or leave it.’ It’s healthy to offer competing alternatives and ideas. Not every proposed idea has to be seen as a challenge to his authority, but that has been the case.

But Fritchey, who is presently campaigning for a seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, says he's only considering the idea -- he'd only run for mayor "if I felt there was a broad core of support out there." Similarly, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who recently called Daley a "horrible manager" of taxpayer funds, is tacking toward a re-election bid to city council, as is Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), also much discussed in recent weeks as a mayoral candidate.

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Sat Aug 28, 2010

The PI Week In Review

The week that was in Illinois politics and government (August 21 - August 27, 2010). 

PI Original
by Adam Doster
Fri Aug 27, 2010

Elgin's Education Funding Quandry

School officials across the state are wary of Gov. Pat Quinn's new property tax relief proposal. Given the General Assembly's budget woes, it's hard to blame them.