Updates

End-of-year Traditions

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After the disaster of a deal that privatized Chicago’s parking meters, there was a lot of talk of ensuring transparency and protections to make sure taxpayers never got ripped off again. Unfortunately, it looks as though the City Council is at it again — taking a short-term cash advance at the long-term expense of taxpayers and the public interest.

Report | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, Illinois PIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

Over the past twenty-seven years, the Illinois PIRG report has identified hazards in toys and children’s products that could cause acute injuries, from small parts that pose a choking hazard, to strangulation hazards from cords on pull toys, to laceration hazards from edges that are too sharp, to toxic hazards posed by chemicals in toys.  Our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped us educate the public and policymakers on the need for stronger public health and consumer safety standards and for stronger federal laws to protect children from unsafe products. This report continues to be an important endeavor in keeping children - particularly babies and toddlers - safe, as the majority of all injuries happen to children in the 0-2 age range.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Study Finds Only 52% of TIF-Related Job Creation Confirmed in Chicago

A new report released today found little tracking or enforcement of taxpayer subsidized private development projects that had promised job creation.  The analysis by the watchdog group Illinois PIRG comes one year after Mayor Emanuel’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel released recommendations for how to fix the wasteful economic development program and underscores the need to implement reform to protect taxpayers.

Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Jobs and TIF

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records of 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

Since TIF projects are typically justified byusing their purported job-creation benefits, and because the number of jobs created is relatively easy for the city to track, we obtained and examined records on projects with job-creations requirements above 200 from in the years 2000 through 2010. These projects should ought to be the most scrutinized TIF projects in the city. The results suggest, however, that Chicago’s TIF programs remain largely impervious to scrutiny and unaccountable to the public.  The findings show that among projects that promised to create the most jobs, there are unacceptably low levels of tracking and enforcement:

• The city could demonstrate consistent tracking of job-creation for only three (14 percent%) of these major TIF projects

• Out of 21 projects with some kind of jobs goal, 15 (71 percent%) did not provide annual evidence that the jobs goals were being met, but the city only asked only two2 of the projects to give money back.

• Not a single project complies with existing the 2009 “Sunshine Ordinance” that requires posting of five5 major documents online; most projects provide less than half.

• A significant number of projects (19 percent%) did not even have specific job-creation goals in their official agreements with the city.

To show the relative degree of overall transparency and accountability for each project, we created a scorecard to assign each a letter grade from “A” to “F” based on four criteria: whether enforceable standards were created, whether the developers hit their jobs goals and reported it to the city, whether the city reclaimed the TIF funds in instances where developers failed to hit their jobs goals, and whether all the information required to be available to the public is accessible.        

 

 

Unaccountability in the TIF program

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If an economic development project is supposed to create jobs, but no one is around to monitor it, should they still get our tax dollars?

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Passage of H.R. 4078 Would Shut Down Public Health and Consumer Safeguards and Put All Americans at Risk

The House’s passage of H.R. 4078 would shut down the U.S. regulatory system as we know it, delaying virtually all rule making and public health protections.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Health Care

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform Law

"Today’s decision is good news for consumers in Illinois. Insurance companies can’t go back to the days of dropping your coverage once you become ill, or denying coverage to sick children. And beginning in 2014, the days of insurers being able to deny anyone coverage for “pre-existing conditions” will be history. Now it’s time for Illinois leaders to move forward on the next steps, and make sure health reform delivers lower costs and better quality coverage."

Central to the success of the economic development program Tax-Increment Financing (TIF), is job creation and retention, as increased employment is an indicator of economic growth and improved public well-being.  But when we dig deeper into the specifics of many of the TIF Redevelopment Agreements and the “Employment Certifications” provided by developers to the City, a couple of alarming patterns begin to emerge.

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

At Stake: What’s on the Line for Health Care Consumers in the Pending Supreme Court Case

The outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have far reaching impacts on consumers. In this issue brief, we highlight the number of people the law has helped so far and the costs already saved to illustrate what’s at stake for Illinois consumers in the pending Supreme Court case.

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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