2023 Year in Review

December 27, 2023

The following are summaries of the five most-read posts presented on the Civic Federation’s blog in 2023, listed here in chronological order. The posts examine issues related to Illinois taxes and debt, Tier 2 Benefits, the SAFE-T Act, and the tragic passing of Civic Federation President Laurence Msall.


Statement on the Passing of Civic Federation President Laurence Msall, 1962-2023

Feb. 4, 2023

One of the Civic Federation’s most-read blog posts of 2023 was our statement on the passing of Civic Federation president Laurence Msall. On Feb. 4, Laurence passed away surrounded by family following complications from surgery. 

In the weeks following his passing, Laurence received an outpouring of tributes from the media and people across Illinois. He was also honored with resolutions from the Illinois House of RepresentativesIllinois SenateCook County Board of CommissionersChicago City Council and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and he was recognized with a 2023 Mayor’s Medal of Honor. On Feb. 28, the Civic Federation named Vice President and Research Director Sarah Wetmore as acting president of the organization, and on Dec. 12, the Civic Federation announced Joe Ferguson, former City of Chicago Inspector General and United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, as president-elect of the Civic Federation. Ferguson’s first day with the Federation is Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.


How the Composite Effective Hotel Tax Rate Is Calculated in Chicago

March 31, 2023

In March, the Civic Federation published its annual Consumer Tax Rates Report, which includes a detailed explanation of the complicated hotel operators’ tax. The hotel tax is comprised of three taxing authorities who tax hotel operators’ gross receipts, which include both taxes and hotel charges, and three taxing authorities’ tax net receipts, which do not include taxes. This blog post explains the history of the hotel operators’ tax and how to calculate the tax rate for hotel stays in Chicago. 


State of Illinois FY2024 Debt Burden and Credit Ratings

April 21, 2023

The State of Illinois pays debt service on four major types of bonds: Build Illinois revenue bonds, General Obligation (GO) bonds for pension obligations, GO bonds to pay backlogged bills and GO bonds for capital projects. This post describes how much debt service is owed on the four types of bonds from FY2020 to FY2024, the types of projects these bonds will fund in FY2024 and recent credit ratings upgrades for State of Illinois debt made by rating agencies in 2022 and 2023.


Before Enhancing Tier 2 Benefits, Evaluate the Financial Impact of Illinois Pension Proposals

April 28, 2023

The Civic Federation expressed concern after two bills passed out of committee in the Illinois House of Representatives that would increase pension benefits for Tier 2 Chicago firefighters (those hired after January 1, 2011), as no analysis was completed first to understand how much the bills would cost both the responsible governments and taxpayers, or how necessary these proposed enhancements are. This blog post explains the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 pensions, the reasons Tier 2 pensions were created and the federal Safe Harbor compliance concern. In November, the Civic Federation partnered with the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago to draft this policy brief explaining Tier 2 pensions in Illinois and how they’re affected by Safe Harbor.  


Pretrial Provisions of SAFE-T Act Took Effect This Week

Sept. 22, 2023

On July 18, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the pretrial release provisions of the SAFE-T Act are constitutional and paved the way for Illinois to become the first state in the United States to fully eliminate cash bail. In September, these pretrial provisions, known as Pretrial Fairness Act, became law. This blog post recaps past Civic Federation research on the SAFE-T Act, explaining key provisions and amendments in the legislation, the financial implications of eliminating cash bail and how the SAFE-T Act’s impact will be tracked.