March 26, 2015 - 4:27pm


March 26, 2015

Under federal bankruptcy law, State governments decide whether and how local governments have access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy. There are 12 states that allow their local governments unfettered access to municipal bankruptcy, 12 states that allow municipal bankruptcy under certain conditions, two states that specifically prohibit their local governments from filing bankruptcy, 21 states that are unclear or do not have specific authorization and three states with only very limited authorization. Illinois is in the final category.[1]


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March 24, 2015 - 12:04pm


March 24, 2015

Short-term or current liabilities are financial obligations that must be satisfied within one year. They can include short-term debt, accounts payable, accrued payroll and other current liabilities.

This blog post presents 12-year trends for 1) total short-term liabilities in the Governmental Funds and 2) short-term liabilities as a percentage of operating revenues for the three largest local governments the Civic Federation regularly monitors and evaluates: the City of Chicago, Cook County and Chicago Public Schools (CPS).


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March 21, 2015

Crain's Chicago Business

Crain's Chicago Business
March 21, 2015

This editorial discusses an upcoming $550 million increase in the City’s required pension payments and the stance of both mayoral candidates on increasing property taxes leading into the April 7 election. It cited the Civic Federation’s FY2015 City of Chicago Budget Analysis which said it was difficult to see how the City could make the increased payment without a significant increase in the city's property tax levy, crippling cuts to city services, or both.

March 23, 2015 - 4:42pm


March 23, 2015

The most recent legislative analysis of the State of Illinois’ annual revenues provides little hope for additional gains from economic growth to help solve the State’s ongoing budget crisis. This is in contrast to the last several budget years when the State has experienced revenue growth during the fiscal year that allowed for supplemental appropriations to plug budget holes and pay down bills.

The latest indications for FY2015 from the legislature’s joint fiscal research commission show the State ending the year far below the estimates used to develop the current budget.


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March 20, 2015

Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools
March 20, 2015

This article covers the triple credit rating downgrade issued to Chicago Public Schools by Fitch Ratings March 20. The downgrade could trigger the termination of contracts that are contingent on the District’s credit rating, similar to the terminations triggered last month for the City of Chicago’s swaps contracts. The Civic Federation said the downgrade is not a surprise; CPS has been operating without a transparent, long-term plan to deal with the district’s ongoing financial crisis.

March 19, 2015 - 2:08pm


March 19, 2015

The Civic Federation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will co-host a conference, “Sin Taxes: The Sobering Fiscal Reality,” in two weeks on Thursday, April 2, 2015. The conference will examine the theories behind these ubiquitous taxes and their implementation across the country, with a special focus by three panels of experts on tobacco taxes, gaming expansions and the new frontier of medical and legalized marijuana.


We welcome any questions and feedback about the content of this blog. Please e-mail [email protected] with your query.

March 16, 2015

Crain's Chicago Business

Crain's Chicago Business
March 16, 2015

This article discusses Chicago’s Tax Increment Financing program and counters the argument that TIF districts take money that would otherwise go to public schools. When a TIF district is created its EAV at that time remains frozen, so tax revenues generated from the incremental growth in EAV above the frozen base are used for TIF projects. This does not change the levy collected by individual governments on the frozen base EAV. The Civic Federation explained that in recent years CPS has collected the maximum property tax levy allowed by law, so what it doesn’t get from TIF districts it collects from all other property taxpayers.

March 14, 2015

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune
March 14, 2015

This article looks at both mayoral candidates’ proposals for addressing the City of Chicago’s financial challenges, which include severely underfunded pension funds, a high debt level and Chicago Public Schools’ $1 billion deficit. The Civic Federation said that even after pension fund reforms it is hard to see how these liabilities could be fully addressed without future property tax increases.

March 11, 2015

Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Sun-Times
March 11, 2015

This article covers the Illinois Supreme Court’s consideration on March 11 of oral arguments for the State’s pension reform law. The court took the case under advisement. The Civic Federation said that if the court does not find the pension reforms constitutional, it should provide direction on how the State could maintain the current system without debilitating service cuts or extreme tax hikes.   

March 12, 2015

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune
March 12, 2015

This article discusses the status of the City of Chicago’s swap contracts following a recent credit downgrade issued by Moody’s Investors Service that had the potential to terminate certain contracts. The Civic Federation said these types of contracts are adding more pressure to the City’s already dangerous financial position. 

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