Non-profit

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

Website:

ctbaonline.org

Location:

CHICAGO, IL

Tax ID:

36-4327041

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $795,565
Expenses: $565,268
Assets: $918,065

Type:

Think Tank

Founded:

2000

Executive Director:

Ralph M. Martire

President's Compensation:

$75,000 (2019)

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability is a left-leaning Illinois think tank that promotes higher taxes on businesses and high-income individuals, increased government spending, and policies that broadly benefit public-sector unions. While the CTBA describes itself as “bipartisan,” its leadership and staff are heavily connected to the Democratic Party and its funding comes largely from public sector unions and left-leaning foundations. [1]

History and Leadership

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability was founded as the “Illinois Tax Accountability Project” in 2000, changing its name in 2002. Ralph M. Martire has been its executive director since its founding. [2]

The CTBA’s board of directors is heavily connected to the Democratic Party and public sector unions in the state. It includes Sean Denney, Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Education Association; former Illinois State Representative Roger Eddy (R); Jonathan Jackson, national spokesman for Rainbow PUSH Coalition and godson of former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson; U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL); William McNary, delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention pledged to support the campaign of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), co-director of Citizen Action Illinois and founding member of pro-Obamacare group Health Care for America Now; and Daniel J. Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. [3]

Policy Positions

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has provided studies and support for multiple proposed and actual tax increases in Illinois, as well as other policies that would generally increase the size of state government and benefit public-sector union interests, including expanding the state sales tax to include services, [4] a “temporary” tax increase in 2011 that the legislature made permanent in 2017, [5] increasing funding to state public universities, [6] and dramatically increasing public education funding by setting “adequacy targets” for school district funding that considered 83 percent of the state’s school districts to be underfunded. [7]

A CTBA proposal to “reamortize” Illinois’ public sector employee pension debt by issuing new bonds to cover existing debt drew warnings from bond rating agencies that this strategy risked lowering the state’s bond rating below investment grade to “junk” status. [8] [9]

The CTBA has been critical of the Chicago Housing Authority for its fiscal management, releasing reports in 2014 and 2017 to that effect. [10] After the 2017 report, the Authority released a statement saying that the data used by the CTBA to reach its conclusions “do not accurately represent the Chicago Housing Authority’s most current financial status or housing production numbers.” [11] The Authority criticized the CTBA’s researchers for not using updated data that had been reported to the federal government and was available on the Authority’s website. The CTBA’s research director at the time, Daniel Hertz, has since become director of policy, research, and legislative affairs for Chicago’s Department of Housing. [12]

2020 Illinois Tax Increase Ballot Proposal

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability played a role in developing the “Fair Tax Proposal,” which was an attempt in 2020 to amend Illinois’ state constitution by a ballot measure to allow the state to increase tax revenues through the creation of new, higher tax rates for higher earners. [13] [14]

CTBA materials claimed it was necessary “to provide for the same level of spending on services year-over-year.” [15] However, CTBA executive director Ralph Martire admitted to the Chicago Tribune that the tax increase “wouldn’t be enough” to fund Governor J.B. Pritzker’s (D) spending proposals, and suggested the state would have to raise taxes even further. [16]

Illinois voters rejected the ballot proposal 53.27% to 46.73% in the November 2020 general election. [17]

Key Funders

Unions

A significant share of the CTBA’s funding comes from unions, union-affiliated political action committees, and other related entities. In 2015, for instance, unions reported donating $165,000 to the CTBA. The Illinois Federation of Teachers COPE political action committee donated another $127,500, for a total of $292,500. That year, the CTBA received $674,869 in total revenues. [18]

One analysis of public records by a Chicago-area activist found that four unions – AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association/Illinois Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union, had donated $3,144,300 to the CTBA between 2010 and 2020. [19]

Between 2002 and 2018, the Illinois State Board of Elections recorded $1,224,950 in payments from union-affiliated political action committees to the CTBA. [20]

Woods Fund of Chicago

Between 2003 and 2019, the Woods Fund of Chicago donated at least $900,500 to CTBA. The foundation, which was created by the family of telecommunications and coal industry executive Frank H. Woods, funds projects “that draw on the power of communities to fight the brutality of structural racism and economic injustice.” [21] The Woods Fund is heavily connected to Chicago’s Democratic Party and left-wing activist organizations in the region, and both former President Barack Obama and Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers, among other prominent Chicago-area Democrats, have sat on its board. [22]

Other Funders

The Chicago Community Trust has donated $130,000 to the CTBA to develop education funding reform proposals. [23]

The MacArthur Foundation has donated $355,000 to the CTBA. [24]

The CTBA received a fully-forgiven federal Paycheck Protection Program loan of $91,500 in 2021, which it said in its application would protect five jobs. [25]

Roosevelt University

The CTBA is connected to Roosevelt University, an Illinois-based university that describes itself as “a national leader in educating socially conscious citizens for active and dedicated lives as leaders in their professions and their communities.” [26] CTBA executive director Ralph Martire is a professor of public policy at the university, associate director for budget and policy Allison Flanagan is an adjunct instructor, and CTBA board member Cami K. McBride is dean of its College of Arts and Sciences. [27] [28]

In 2021, Martire was recorded on a teleconference discussing his approach to teaching a masters-level class in public policy and fiscal budgets at Roosevelt, saying “The first three or four classes are devoted to philosophy of social justice and how you organize society… We don’t talk about one, you know, budgetary item. They’re like, ‘Oh, man. Professor Martire, this is a really weird way to teach a budget.'” [29]

References

  1. “About CTBA,” CTBAOnline.org (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability), accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.ctbaonline.org/about/about-ctba. ^
  2. “Ralph Martire,” Ralph Martire (Roosevelt University), accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.roosevelt.edu/academics/faculty/profile/rmartire. ^
  3. “Board Members,” CTBAOnline.org (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability), accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.ctbaonline.org/about/board-members. ^
  4. “Issue Brief: Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services,” Issue Brief: Expanding the Base of Illinois’ Sales Tax to Consumer Services | Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, May 20, 2015), https://ctbaonline.org/reports/issue-brief-expanding-base-illinois%E2%80%99-sales-tax-consumer-services. ^
  5. Tami Luhby, “Illinois Lawmakers Pass Massive Tax Hikes,” CNNMoney (Cable News Network, January 12, 2011), https://money.cnn.com/2011/01/12/news/economy/illinois_income_tax/index.htm. ^
  6. “It’s Time to Reverse Illinois’ Two-Decade Retreat from Higher Education,” CTBA’s Budget Blog (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, January 22, 2019), https://budgetblog.ctbaonline.org/its-time-to-reverse-illinois-two-decade-retreat-from-higher-education-8bb5de1e66f. ^
  7. “Moving Forward: Illinois’ Evidence Based School Funding Formula Can Reverse Decades of Inequity Created by the Foundation Formula It Replaced,” Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, October 10, 2018, https://www.ctbaonline.org/reports/moving-forward-illinois-evidence-based-school-funding-formula-can-reverse-decades-inequity. ^
  8. “Addressing Illinois’ Pension Debt Crisis with Reamortization,” Addressing Illinois’ Pension Debt Crisis With Reamortization | Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, May 21, 2018), https://www.ctbaonline.org/reports/addressing-illinois%E2%80%99-pension-debt-crisis-reamortization. ^
  9. “2019 Fiscal Decisions Key for Illinois” (Fitch Ratings, December 3, 2018), https://www.fitchratings.com/research/us-public-finance/2019-fiscal-decisions-key-for-illinois-03-12-2018. ^
  10. “Seeing Improvements, Questioning Priorities: Updating ‘A Fiscal Review of the Chicago Housing…,” CTBA’s Budget Blog (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, February 1, 2017), https://budgetblog.ctbaonline.org/https-budgetblog-ctbaonline-org-seeing-improvements-questioning-priorities-a5c67ea3e4c6. ^
  11. “CHA Statement on Center for Tax and Budget Accountability Report,” The Chicago Housing Authority, January 13, 2017, https://www.thecha.org/news-media/news/cha-statement-center-tax-and-budget-accountability-report. ^
  12. “DOH – Leadership,” DOH- Leadership (City of Chicago), accessed December 24, 2021, https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/doh/auto_generated/doh_leadership.html. ^
  13. “Everything You Need to Know about the ‘Fair Tax,’” CTBAOnline.org (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, October 16, 2020), https://ctbaonline.org/reports/everything-you-need-know-about-fair-tax. ^
  14. Paris Schutz, “New Report Recommends Graduated Income Tax for Illinois,” WTTW News, April 30, 2018, https://news.wttw.com/2018/04/30/new-report-recommends-graduated-income-tax-illinois. ^
  15. “Everything You Need to Know about the ‘Fair Tax,’” CTBAOnline.org (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, October 16, 2020), https://ctbaonline.org/reports/everything-you-need-know-about-fair-tax. ^
  16. Dan Petrella, “Gov. Pritzker Says His Income Tax Plan Would Generate $3.4 Billion in Revenue. Some Tax Experts Question Whether It’s Enough.,” chicagotribune.com (Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2019), https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-met-jb-pritzker-graduated-tax-plan-reaction-20190308-story.html. ^
  17. “Illinois Allow for Graduated Income Tax Amendment (2020),” Ballotpedia, accessed December 23, 2021, https://ballotpedia.org/Illinois_Allow_for_Graduated_Income_Tax_Amendment_(2020). ^
  18. Data compiled from forms filed with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards by labor unions (Forms LM-2) and reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections by regulated political committees. Queries conducted December 27, 2021. ^
  19. “CTBA Funding Update,” Citizen vs Machine, June 24, 2021, https://citizenvsmachine.wordpress.com/2021/06/24/ctba-funding-update/. ^
  20. “Expenditures Search By All Expenditures.” Illinois State Board of Elections. State of Illinois. Accessed December 23, 2021. https://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/ExpenditureSearchByAllExpenditures.aspx?ddlExpenditureType=wOGh3QTPfKqV2YWjeRmjTeStk426RfVK&ddlState=Ry707kcsXsM%3d&ddlReceivedDateTime=Ry707kcsXsM%3d&ddlReceivedDateTimeThru=Ry707kcsXsM%3d&txtBeneficiary=9%2fhSSLL7zyXbxcfWIDSHyngkjw730IPDAmz8E%2bXvC%2fE%3d&ddlBeneficiarySearchType=uhV70GVj7rs2mYAJ0IPVG%2fPXF28eNgo%2f&radSupportingOpposing=Ry707kcsXsM%3d&T=637758801121553916. ^
  21. “About Us,” Woods Fund Chicago, accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.woodsfund.org/who-we-are. ^
  22. [1] Rita Giordano, “Obama-Ayers Link Involved Annenberg Grant,” https://www.inquirer.com (The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 18, 2008), https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/nation_world/20081018_Obama-Ayers_link_involved_Annenberg_grant.html. ^
  23. [1] “Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the Chicago Community Trust,” The Chicago Community Trust, accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.cct.org/what-we-offer/grants/center-for-tax-and-budget-accountability/. ^
  24. “Center for Tax and Budget Accountability,” MacArthur Foundation, accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.macfound.org/grantee/center-for-tax-and-budget-accountability-31905/. ^
  25. “Center for Tax and Budget Accountability N.F.P. – Tracking PPP,” ProPublica, July 7, 2020, https://projects.propublica.org/coronavirus/bailouts/loans/center-for-tax-and-budget-accountability-n-f-p-1628818400. ^
  26. “Roosevelt University.” Roosevelt University | Chicago and Schaumburg, Illinois and Online. Roosevelt University. Accessed December 23, 2021. https://www.roosevelt.edu/. ^
  27. “Ralph Martire,” Ralph Martire (Roosevelt University), accessed December 23, 2021, https://www.roosevelt.edu/academics/faculty/profile/rmartire. ^
  28. “About Us – Board Members.” CTBAOnline.org. Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Accessed December 23, 2021. https://www.ctbaonline.org/about/board-members. ^
  29. Audrey Conklin, “Chicago Professors Caught Gushing over Teaching Social Justice on Zoom: ‘I’m Living the Life over Here’,” FOX 32 Chicago (FOX 32 Chicago, May 3, 2021), https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/chicago-professors-caught-gushing-over-teaching-social-justice-on-zoom-im-living-the-life-over-here ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2000

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $795,565 $565,268 $918,065 $0 N $757,840 $26,191 $9,384 $75,000 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $355,156 $648,744 $642,833 $0 N $348,260 $0 $596 $131,403 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $736,822 $627,585 $938,159 $1,738 N $723,571 $0 $767 $149,371 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $616,105 $633,321 $828,324 $1,140 N $604,066 $0 $608 $146,205
    2015 Dec Form 990 $681,778 $653,084 $845,195 $795 N $674,869 $0 $611 $131,271 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $778,872 $618,853 $816,559 $853 N $775,736 $0 $520 $155,139 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $722,049 $732,428 $656,179 $493 N $710,009 $0 $1,415 $138,205 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $777,898 $739,378 $671,123 $5,058 N $750,750 $0 $1,566 $134,537 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $742,374 $635,810 $628,339 $794 N $716,010 $0 $1,538 $127,206 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

    70 E LAKE ST STE 1700
    CHICAGO, IL 60601-5930