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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:21pm
Tue Jun 17, 2014

Report: Walmart Received $104 Million Taxpayer Subsidy For Executive Pay

recent report reveals that Walmart raked in taxpayer subsidies totaling $104 million for its executive pay over the past six years at the same time many of the retailer'slowest-paid workers have had to rely on public assistance to meet their basic needs.

Taxpayers subsidized the pay for top Walmart officials due to what critics say is a loophole that allows unlimited corporate tax write-offs on performance-based compensation for executives.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:26pm
Fri Apr 4, 2014

Report: Credit Score Disparities Contribute To Racial Wealth Gap In Illinois

Residents in predominantly minority communities in Illinois have lower credit scores on average than those in mostly white neighborhoods — and that is a significant contributor to the racial wealth gap, according to a recent report from the Illinois Asset Building Group and the Social IMPACT Research Center at the Heartland Alliance, a Midwest anti-poverty organization.

The credit score gap between white and minority communities fuels racial inequality in the state, the "Trapped by Credit" report concludes.

In general, the report found that communities of color in Illinois are less likely than mostly white neighborhoods to have well-being indicators associated with stronger credit scores, such as higher levels of educational attainment and greater rates of homeownership and employment.

Similarly, communities of color have on average lower levels of "good debt" from student or home loans and higher levels of "bad debt" from sources like credit cards.

Since good credit scores help people gain access to better jobs, homeownership and higher education, "a cycle emerges where low credit scores feed decreased financial and social opportunity, which in turn feeds low credit scores," the report reads.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:37pm
Thu Mar 20, 2014

Chicago's Food Deserts Are A 'Civil Rights Issue', Experts Say

While the population of food deserts may have arguably decreased over recent years in Chicago, a number of obstacles still remain when it comes to expanding access to healthy foods in the city, according to panelists who discussed the topic Thursday afternoon.

The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hosted the talk in Chicago to hear from public, private and non-profit leaders who work on food access issues. Back in 2011, the committee issued its own report about Chicago food deserts, a problem it says must be addressed as a civil rights issue.

Food deserts are communities that lack healthy, fresh food options. In Chicago, African-American and Latino communities tend to face the greatest food access challenges. The Emanuel administration has worked to expand food access by bringing in new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts, among other efforts.

But panelists at the discussion, held at Kennedy-King College on Chicago's South Side, noted that poverty and high prices for healthy foods are big barriers standing in the way of eliminating food deserts. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:40pm
Wed Mar 19, 2014

Schakowsky Speaks Out Against Proposals To Expand Medicare Means Testing

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9) says Medicare beneficiaries would have to shoulder a severe financial burden if additional means testing is introduced into the program, as some federal proposals have recommended.

The congresswoman on Wednesday jointly released 150,000 petition signatures against means testing Medicare with national groups including the Medicare Rights Center and Social Security Works. The petition calls on President Barack Obama "to drop support of Medicare cuts," according to the groups.

"At least one in five seniors are already cutting back on health care because they can't afford it," Schakowksy said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning. "Shifting more costs onto their shoulders is not the answer, especially when there are better solutions."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Wed Feb 12, 2014

Ralph Martire: Illinois School Funding Reform Must Include Changes To Tax Policy

Reforming Illinois' public education funding system has to include fixes to the state’s tax policy, argued Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, at a DePaul University education forum Tuesday evening.

“For decades, Illinois has denied an adequate education to the vast majority of its school children, and it’s set up a structurally-racist system of education finance that specifically singles out African Americans and Latinos for very poorly funded education,” Martire said at the discussion about equity in education. “To fix that, we need to raise taxes the right way.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:56pm
Thu Jan 9, 2014

Minimum Wage Lights Up Guv's Race, Study Shows Increase Could Bring 5 Million Out Of Poverty (UPDATED)

About 4.6 million Americans could emerge from poverty if the federal minimum wage was bumped up to $10.10 an hour, a recent study by a University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist shows. Progress Illinois takes a look at the national study as well as the minimum wage battle that has recently cropped up in the race for Illinois governor. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:57pm
Wed Dec 11, 2013

Ald. Brookins Calls For Hearing On Inequality Among Chicago Airport Concession Workers

Workers at the Hudson News bookstore at both Midway and O'Hare International airports say the company is not treating its North and South Side employees equally, and they want the Chicago City Council to investigate the issue.

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), one of the airport workers' advocates, introduced a non-binding resolution at Wednesday's city council meeting that calls on the Aviation Committee to hold a hearing about the compensation system and personnel practices the company uses at both locations.

Hudson Midway workers receive an average hourly wage of $8.92, while Hudson O'Hare employees are paid an average of $10.05 per hour, Brookins' resolution reads. Hudson News workers at O'Hare earn an average of $1.13 more an hour than their counterparts at Midway, according to the hospitality union Unite Here Local 1, which represents the Hudson News workers at O’Hare and Midway.

"Why, if you do the same work at the same company in the same city, do you get paid less money?" Brookins said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

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