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About the Project
For more than 65 years, the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) has conducted nonpartisan research on our nation’s toughest policy challenges. IGPA experts have devoted their careers to studying the complicated issues behind the questions that are often on voters’ minds. What are the most important things citizens should know as they step into the voting booth this fall? We asked our IGPA experts: What does the research show? Here, find the nonpartisan, evidence-based answers ON THE ISSUES.
IGPA will be sharing this series with newspapers across the state. Many pieces will be published by the Chicago Sun Times, the Champaign News-Gazette, the Springfield State Journal-Register, and the Peoria Journal Star.
The views and opinions expressed in this series are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the university.
November 5, 2012
What do voters need to know about redistricting?
By Christopher Z. Mooney
On November 6, odds are you may face a slate of unfamiliar congressional and state legislative candidates. Even if you are politically savvy, the names on the ballot may be new to you. Click here to read the essay and view a video with the author.
October 29, 2012
A tale of two healthcare plans--Why this election matters
By Nicole Kazee
The outcome of the 2012 presidential election will have major implications for the future of healthcare. This year’s candidates have laid out extraordinarily different policy visions. How can you know which party best represents your views? Click here to read the essay.
October 22, 2012
Is it fair to tax income from capital gains at such a low rate?
By David Merriman
Lower tax rates for investment income seem to violate the traditional value embodied in the U.S. tax system: that tax rates should increase with income, or should be progressive. But regardless of the debate over the justice of tax rates, there are good reasons to tax capital gains from long-term investments differently than income from wages. Click here to read the essay.
October 15, 2012
How will Latino demographics impact the 2012 election?
By Jorge Chapa
What is the likely impact of this Latino boom on the 2012 election? On the campaign trail, its importance has already been seen as the presidential candidates and parties work to court the Latino vote. Why is it so coveted? Click here to read the full essay.
October 8, 2012
How do the candidates' platorms on poverty compare?
By Elizabeth Powers
More people are living in poverty now than in the past half-century that records have been kept. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate was 15 percent in 2011. That means more than 46 million Americans are living at levels below the poverty threshold. Click here to read the full essay.
September 28, 2012
How do energy policies affect the environment?
By Don Fullerton
Recent environmental policy debate has focused on whether to enact new policies—such as a cap-and-trade system—to control greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. The fact is, however, that we already have policies that affect such emissions, whether we think of them this way or not. Click here to read the full essay and view a video with the author.
September 24, 2012
How can the state improve its budget situation?
By Richard Dye
Fixing Illinois’ budget crisis begins with understanding just how much money comes in and how much money is spent in a given year. Yet tracking the state’s massive budget is much more difficult than it seems, and is made harder still due to convoluted accounting practices. For example, the state’s fiscal managers often shift costs to the future or move funds around to alter appearances. Click here to read the entire essay.
September 17, 2012
How can states implement better education reform?
By Rachel Gordon
With the first Chicago teacher walkout in 25 years, the city’s public school system has been making national headlines as a starting point to discuss education reform. While a central issue in Chicago has been evaluating teachers, perhaps an equally important question to consider is whether reform programs—on the whole—are effective. Click here to read the full essay.
September 10, 2012
A Few Pointers on Political Polls
By Brian Gaines
During election season, poll results are everywhere. Did the Democratic Convention give President Obama a bump in the polls? How did Romney’s latest ad play among swing voters? Even in a state like Illinois where the presidential result is not in doubt, polls indicate that several legislative races appear to be close. Here are a few tips for reading these useful but imperfect devices for measuring public opinion. Click here to read the full essay and view an infographic on this topic.
September 4, 2012
Are Voter ID Laws Good Policy?
By Cedric Herring
Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the right to vote. Because the franchise is so central to representative democracy, some lawmakers argue that we must protect the integrity of the electoral process by guarding against voter fraud. To do this, they have proposed and passed legislation requiring would-be voters to bring some form of state-recognized identification to their polling place on Election Day. Click here to read the full essay and view a video on the topic.