Illinois Policy Institute
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives for a better Illinois. The group participates at the state and local level, with offices in Chicago and Springfield.
The think tank also covers education reform (in the form of advocacy for charter schools and tuition tax credits), health care, free market solutions and transparency and accountability at the state and local level. IPI has been working with For the Good of Illinois to gain transparency at the school district level. The Institute's Liberty Leaders program trains people interested in government accountability and transparency how to communicate their ideas and the policies that may become law.
In 2008, Kate Campaigne, the Institute's director of government reform, wrote an op-ed advocating for more transparency in Illinois, saying:
"On a very basic level, practicing transparency entails listing all government expenditures online in an easily searchable database. Just as you can open your personal bank account online and look up your spending activity, the database would provide the details of every tax dollar spent."
On October 2, 2008 The Illinois Policy Institute launched OpenIllinois.org, a website dedicated to expanding transparency across the state of Illinois through the works of liberty leaders and partner organizations.
On May 15, 2009 the Illinois Senate unanimously passed HB35, the Illinois Accountability Portal. The legislation, which IPI backed, would create an online portal of state spending. It went to Governor Quinn for approval.
"Illinois Open Gov"
Illinois Open Gov is a transparency website sponsored by the organization. The site will list state employee salary, retiree pensions, and vendor information. The site states plans to include all state spending. 
Illinois Open Gov exceeds the current state sponsored site for government employee salary information by also factoring in information about employee benefits and providing information about retired state employees.
The site also allows others to repurpose the data by allowing it to be downloadable in Excel or CSV file formats. It also hosts a forum for public conversation to discuss particular spending items.
Budget review: taxes and spending
In response to Governor Pat Quinn's call to increase personal and corporate income taxes in 2009, the Illinois Policy Institute released a table showing who would pay higher taxes based on family size and income level:
- An individual making more than $14,000 would pay higher taxes.
- A couple earning more than $28,000 would pay higher taxes.
- A family of three bringing home more than $42,000 would pay higher taxes.
- A household of four with income over $56,000 would pay higher taxes.
The Institute released a report by tax economist Scoot Moody that showed that the long-term loss associated with the personal income tax hike, in present value terms, would cost the Illinois economy $8.6 billion in lost output.
The Institute suggested a "Council on Efficient Government" -- a strong efficiency review body with power to develop significant cost-saving performance and procurement guidelines -- as a way to address budget shortfalls.
An article by an Institute staffer noted a tax hike "... is devastating news for a state that already ranks 44th and 48th, respectively, in terms of its economic outlook and performance, according to the ALEC-Laffer state economic-competitiveness index. Should Illinois increase its historically low income-tax rates, it would forfeit one of the best incentives for people to live and work in the state."
The Institute has also released a report entitled "Budget Solutions 2010," which illustrates how the state of Illinois can have a balanced budget without raising taxes or cutting essential programs.
The Institute has released a study on state government spending entitled "Out of control: The explosion of Illinois state government spending," which illustrates some of the problems with state government.
The Institute supports education choice. They suggest eliminating all caps restricting the growth of charter schools in Illinois and creating independent authorities that will enable charter schools to open.
The Institute released a study of charter schools in Illinois highlighting the success of the school choice movement in Illinois. The report is entitled Unsung Heroes: Downstate and suburban charter schools thrive in Illinois.
The Institute has also released a report entitled "Opening the Door to Better Schools: Reforming charter school authorization law in Illinois," which addresses the need for changing current laws for authorization and oversight of charter schools.
The Institute has released a new one page key facts paper about education.
Related articles on charter schools
- Private Sector Educators, Public School Students
- Charter Schools: Accountability Creates Better Choices for For Education
- Rockford--and rest of state--would benefit from charters
- Institute statement on President-elect Obama's choice of Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education
- The Illinois Education Solution
- Give students the choice to attend charter schools where kids perform well
- School's Out, Forever? Charter Schools and the Dropout Crisis (dead link)
The Liberty Leaders program is developing “spokespeople for liberty” in Illinois by providing citizens with knowledge of free market policies and the know-how to get them turned into law.
Besides providing Liberty Leaders with background and key information on why liberty-based policy will work for Illinois, the Liberty Leaders program coaches individuals on effective civic engagement.
Since the program’s launch in June of 2008, Liberty Leaders have made over $3.5 billion in local taxpayer expenditures transparent and worked to stop a statewide tax increase–and we’re just getting started.
The Illinois Policy Institute has partnered with the CATO Institute to release a study of the costs of high-speed rail in Illinois. The study,"Taking Illinoisans for a Ride: False promises of high-speed rail," highlights the myths associated with the benefits of high-speed rail and the true costs associated with building high-speed lines.
The Illinois Policy Institute has released several reports addressing the problems when the government steps into the health care arena.
- Does expanding Medicare help the Uninsured? Crowd out effect suggests fewer are being helped than believed (dead link)
- Making patients wait for cancer treatment: Certificated of need program rations patient treatment and should be abolished (dead link)
- Not what the doctor ordered: The scary side of government health care (dead link)
- Open Illinois - OpenIllinois.org is dedicated to expanding transparency across the state of Illinois through the works of liberty leaders and partner organizations.
- Spontaneous Solutions - Blog of the Illinois Policy Institute.
- Tweet Illinois - TweetIllinois.org gathers the short, electronic messages (or “tweets”) of Illinois legislators and publishes them in a central location.
Illinois Policy Institute
190 S. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Illinois Policy Institute
802 South 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62704
- Chicago Fox News, Private Group Details Spending, April 9th, 2008 (dead link)
- State Journal Register, Groups: Budget full of ‘wasteful spending’, April 10, 2008
- The State Journal Register, Kate Campaigne: Public bodies should be posting expenditures online, July 29, 2008
- Open Illinois.org
- Illinois Channel, Illinois Open Government Webpage Now Up and Running, December 2, 2009
- Open Illinois, New Transparency Site!, December 2, 2009
- Illinois Policy Institute, Putting the Spotlight on State Spending, December 2, 2009
- National Review Online, If Blago Wasn’t Bad Enough, March 26, 2009
- Chicago Students Prove they can compete if given a chance: Urban charter school graduation rates rival the best in the state
- Open Illinois.org