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City Club of Chicago: The State of the Illinois Budget

Jason Grotto, Laurence Msall, Ralph Martire and Tina Sfondeles during The State of the Illinois Budget panel at the City Club of Chicago, April 9, 2019 (City Club of Chicago)

April 9, 2019

The State of the Illinois Budget – moderated by Tina Sfondeles – Laurence Msall, Ralph Martire & Jason Grotto

Laurence Msall

Laurence Msall is the President of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan government research organization established in 1894 that promotes independent and evidence-based efforts to improve the effectiveness, financial sustainability, and transparency of state and local governments in Illinois.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, the Chicago Civic Consulting Alliance, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Nominating Committee, and the Kennedy Forum of Illinois. Msall also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs and NPR Illinois Issues. He is an active volunteer with PADS Homeless Shelter and L’arche Chicago. Msall is a graduate of Loyola University School of Law and Knox College.

Ralph Martire

In addition to Ralph Martire’s role as executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (“CTBA”), he is also the Arthur Rubloff Endowed Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University. CTBA is a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and promote opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income class. During his time at CTBA, Ralph has helped obtain numerous legislative successes (including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding in FY2018, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, creation of a bipartisan legislative task force to integrate workforce and economic development policies, passage of the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases, corporate accountability legislation that, among other things, requires public reporting of economic development benefits created through receipt of tax breaks and other subsidies, decoupling Illinois tax policy from both the federal bonus depreciation rules and the federal repeal of the estate tax).

In 2018, Ralph was appointed to serve on the legislatively established “Professional Review Panel,” charged with monitoring the implementation of Illinois’ new evidence-based school funding formula. He was also appointed to the Transition Team of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker. In 2011-2013, Ralph served as a full voting commissioner on the Congressionally-established “Equity and Excellence in Education Commission,” which was housed in the Federal Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division.

Jason Grotto

Born and raised in Chicago, ProPublica Illinois reporter Jason Grotto specializes in quantitative analysis, using databases, statistics and mapping to ferret out corruption, negligence and bad public policy. Previously, he worked as an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald. His most recent project, which exposed widespread inaccuracies and disparities in Cook County’s property tax assessment system, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting in 2018. He has also reported on the pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois and led a Gerald Loeb Award-winning investigation on Chicago Public Schools’ disastrous use of auction-rate securities, uncovered fraud in federal poverty programs, problems in Iraq war contracting and flaws in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

He was a 2015 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he studied municipal finance. Other honors include a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and the Society of Environmental Journalists Award. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2000 and a bachelor’s in U.S. history from the University of Oregon in 1995.

Tina Sfondeles

Tina Sfondeles is a political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and specializes in stories about Chicago, state, and national politics. She previously oversaw breaking news stories specializing in crime and court coverage.

Previously, Sfondeles covered general assignment stories ranging from crime and features, to profiles and investigations. She also covered the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace, Metra, and the City’s airports.

Sfondeles graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 2005 with a bachelors in communications and international studies. She continued her education at Columbia College of Chicago with her masters in Journalism.

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