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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:18pm
Thu Nov 20

Chicagoans Confront School Board Over CPS' Controversial Bond Deals

Chicago Board of Education members got grilled over the district's questionable bond deals at a raucous school board meeting Wednesday evening.

It was the first school board meeting since the Chicago Tribune published a series of reports on the schools district's controversial borrowing decisions. The newspaper's analysis showed that between 2003 and 2007, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) entered into auction-rate bond and interest-rate swap agreements with financial institutions that could cost at least $100 million more over the life of the contracts than traditional borrowing methods would have.

In light of the Tribune's investigation, mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who attended the school board meeting, introduced a city council resolution last week with his Progressive Reform Caucus colleagues demanding hearings into the "current borrowing practices of the Chicago Public Schools." The council's education committee is expected to hold a hearing on the matter, though a date has yet to be determined.

"We closed over 50 schools supposedly to help save the budget, but meanwhile we lost more than $100 million gambling on Wall Street," Fioretti said at the school board meeting, held at George Westinghouse College Preparatory High School. "That's $100 million that could have been used to save some of these schools, pay our teachers, provide resources to our struggling schools and more."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:30pm
Wed Nov 19

Chicago City Council Passes Emanuel's 2015 Budget; Four Aldermen Object

The Chicago City Council voted 46-4 to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2015 budget. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the council debate on the $7.3 billion spending plan.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:05am
Wed Nov 19

HUD: Homelessness On The Decline In Illinois

Homelessness in Illinois has dropped 8.9 percent since 2010, new figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) show.

There were 13,107 homeless people in Illinois as of this January, down from 14,395 in 2010, according to HUD's annual 'point-in-time' homelessness estimates released late last month. The numbers are based on a one-night count of homeless individuals in shelters and on the street in January.

Over the past year, homelessness in Illinois fell 2.4 percent, HUD's count showed. Notably, homelessness among unaccompanied children and youth in the state decreased by more than 200 between 2013 and 2014.

Nationwide, 578,424 people were homeless during that one-night period in January, representing a 10 percent drop from 2010.

"As a nation, we are successfully reducing homelessness in this country, especially for those who have been living on our streets as a way of life," HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a news release. "There is still a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, but it's clear our strategy is working and we're going to push forward till we end homelessness as we've come to know it."  

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:04pm
Tue Nov 18

Veto Session Preview: Will The Legislature Take Up A Minimum Wage Hike?

Progress Illinois previews what's ahead for lawmakers in the veto session, which starts this week.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:19pm
Thu Nov 13

'Chuy' Garcia Talks Race, Inequality In Chicago; Supports Graduated State Income Tax

Chicago mayoral candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia stressed his support for a graduated state income tax at a Thursday morning University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) panel discussion on race and inequality.

Garcia said property taxes, which are a major source of revenue for public education in the city and state, are "very regressive in terms of how they affect the general population" and are "not the best source to fund schools."

"A fairer system of taxation would be a graduated state income tax, or something that is more progressive tied to an income tax," Garcia said in a follow-up with reporters after the talk, which was sponsored by UIC's Great Cities Institute. "I think that is a much more sustainable funding source for schools, for human services and things of that nature. I think it's one that we really need to look at. States that have that type of progressive taxation tend to have better-funded school systems and less disparities in education."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:34pm
Wed Nov 12

Chicago City Council Roundup: SRO Ordinance, Treasurer Appointment & Pot-Ticketing Hearings

Progress Illinois details the highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

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