Illinois Policy Institute

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Illinois Policy Institute
Established 2002
Type Nonprofit 501(c)(3)
Focus Expanding free-market principles in Illinois
Area served
John Tillman[1]
Subsidiaries Liberty Justice Center[2]
Illinois News Network
Revenue: $3,535,075
Expenses: $3,856,029
(FYE December 2014)[3]
Slogan Policy Changes Lives
Mission "Generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois."[4]

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a non-profit think tank based in Chicago, Illinois. The institute supports limited government and free-market principles.


The Illinois Policy Institute, a public policy research organization, was founded in 2002 and has offices in Chicago and Springfield.[5][6] The Institute has been described as an independent government watchdog, conservative, libertarian, free-market, and nonpartisan.[7][8][9][10][11]

The Illinois Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity with an associated lobbying unit called the Illinois Policy Action, a 501(c)(4).[3][12][13] The Institute also has an affiliated public-interest law firm named the Liberty Justice Center.[2][14] The Illinois News Network, which employs writers to supply newspapers with articles free of charge, is a sister organization.[15][16][17] The Illinois Policy Institute is a member of the State Policy Network.[18] As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Institute is not required to disclose its donors.[19] Bruce Rauner, at the time chairman of the Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR, donated $525,000 to the Institute between 2008 and 2013.[15][20][21] He has not contributed to IPI since 2013.[22][23]


The Illinois Policy Institute’s policy research covers criminal justice, cronyism, and budget and economic issues.

The Illinois Policy Institute has been active in public policy areas including supporting state spending cuts and opposing state tax increases, supporting public pension reform, and advocating for school choice including expanding charter schools.[5][24][25] In 2010, then-Illinois State Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) spoke at an Institute luncheon in support of proposed legislation to offer school vouchers to 42,000 Chicago Public School students.[26] The bill advanced through the Illinois Senate but did not pass the Illinois House of Representatives.[5]

The Institute has been part of a bipartisan coalition supporting criminal-justice reform in Illinois.[27] In 2015, the Institute supported Illinois House Bill 218, which would decriminalize marijuana in the state.[28] The Institute has also supported police reforms such as body cameras. In 2015, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law approving the use of police body cameras statewide.[29]

In January 2015, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for awarding millions of taxpayer dollars in excessive business tax credits to private organizations.[30] The Institute supports eliminating the DCEO.[31]

In 2015, the Illinois General Assembly passed the most competitive crowdfunding regulations in the country.[32][33] Before the bill passed, the Institute played a part in educating the public about the importance of this new funding mechanism as a means for business and jobs growth. Lawmakers and media used the Institute's research when reporting on the issue.[34]

The Institute has drawn attention to trend of out-migration in Illinois.[35][36] In 2015, the Institute published a study highlighting U.S. Census data to show that in 2014, the state had the second-largest net loss in the nation of people moving to other states.[37] |newspaper=Chicago Tribune

In 2013-2014, the Institute opposed a progressive tax supported by public employee unions and some legislators.[38]

Each year since 2009, the Institute has provided a balanced budget proposal for the state of Illinois, which has not passed a balanced budget since 2001.

The Institute has been involved in the fight to legalize food-cart street vending in Chicago. In 2015, the group published a study showing that legalizing the industry could bring 6,400 new jobs to the city, as well as $8.5 million in new revenue.[39] Chicago city alderman passed an Institute-backed ordinance that overturned the city’s ban on food carts on September 24, 2015.[40]

In 2014, the Illinois Policy Institute produced video and blog content opposed to the regulation of ridesharing by the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago.[41]

In 2013, the Institute provided research in support of legislation that would add fiscal notes to proposed legislation in the Illinois General Assembly so politicians understand the full financial impact of a bill before passing it.[42] The bill gained bipartisan support.[43]

In July 2013, the Institute applied through the State Policy Network for funding from the Searle Freedom Trust for a campaign to work with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and state legislators to convert the City of Chicago's government employee pension system to a defined contribution plan system based on Institute draft legislation.[44]

The Institute has graded the transparency practices of various governmental bodies.[45] In 2010, the Institute established an annual Sunshine Award, which recognizes city governments that are judged by the Institute to be in the top 1% for government transparency.[46] The Institute supported legislation proposed by Illinois State Senators Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) and Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) to publish data on state grants to nonprofit groups in an online database of Illinois state spending. [47] The proposed legislation did not pass.[48] In 2012, the Institute's Liberty Justice Center sued the city of Evanston, Illinois for not allowing food trucks to vend in the city.[14][49]


In 2014, Hilary Gowins, managing editor of IPI's blog, earned the group’s first Lisagor Award.[50] IPI policy analyst Bryant Jackson-Green and Liberty Justice Center senior attorney Jacob Huebert both won Lisagor Awards in 2015.[51]

In 2015, Illinois Policy Action won PR News' "Nonprofit PR Award" in the category "advocacy campaign and lobbying efforts” for its 2014 campaign in favor of Illinois’ "fair, flat tax." IPI was also a runner-up in the "blog" category for its feature, "Dewonked." [52][53]


  1. ^ Hinz, Greg (June 25, 2014). "Tea party takes its revenge – on Illinois exporters". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Wells, Rachel (August 30, 2013). "City's rules for licensing vehicles-for-hire ruled unconstitutional". The Pantagraph. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator.  Also see "Quickview data". GuideStar. 
  4. ^ "About Us". Illinois Policy Institute. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Wells, Rachel (July 22, 2010). "Conservative think tank to Illinois: TURN RIGHT". Illinois Times. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Schoenberg, Bernard (February 17, 2013). "Tillman, head of Illinois Policy Institute, pushes GOP strategy". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Krauser, Mike (19 December 2014). "Watchdog: 2 Million Illinois Residents On Food Stamps Is "Extremely Embarrassing"". CBS Chicago. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Merrion, Paul (May 10, 2014). "Why is Illinois unemployment so high?". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Peters, Jeremy (April 22, 2014). "Paul Takes His School-Choice Message to Chicago". New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  10. ^ McGurn, William (April 27, 2010). "In Post-Obama Illinois, Hope and Change". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Pierog, Karen (November 10, 2012). "Illinois faces own fiscal cliff after big Democratic election win". Reuters. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". Illinois Policy Institute. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Hinz, Greg (December 23, 2013). "Rauner gets a boost in GOP race but how big?". Crain’s Chicago Business. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Fisher, Alexandria (August 7, 2012). "Evanston Law Spurs Food Fight". NBC. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Schoenburg, Bernard (November 7, 2013). "Illinois Policy Institute got half million from Rauner". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  16. ^ McKinney, Dave (February 20, 2014). "Illinois Policy Institute employee sues Madigan, Cullerton". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  17. ^ Vock, Daniel C. (November 1, 2014). "How Political Donors Are Changing Statehouse News Reporting". McClatchy-Tribune Business News. Washington, DC. 
  18. ^ "Directory". State Policy Network. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  19. ^ Schoenberg, Bernard (June 19, 2011). "Illinois Policy Institute's PAC connection draws questions". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  20. ^ O'Connor, John (September 30, 2014). "Rauner giving veers left and right". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri: Associated Press. p. 2. 
  21. ^ Schoenberg, Bernard (November 29, 2014). "Rauner foundation gave out more than $3 million in 2013". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  22. ^ Schoenburg, Bernard (20 May 2015). "Bernard Schoenburg: Tom Lamont to help shape future of the Army". The State Journal Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Schoenburg, Bernard (12 May 2014). "Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner foundation gets extension for 2013 tax returns". The State Journal-Register. Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  24. ^ "Pension Reform and the Gubernatorial Race". WTTW. September 10, 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Tillotson, Mary (November 6, 2013). "Study: Choice would help failing Chicago schools". Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Retrieved 2015-02-08. 
  26. ^ McGurn, William (February 22, 2010). "Preaching Choice in Obama's Hometown". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  27. ^ Craig, Dellimore (2014-08-16). "Conservatives, Progressives Agree On Need To Help Ex-Felons Stay Out Of Prison". Chicago: CBS. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  28. ^ Jessie, Hellmann (2015-05-22). "Illinois Senate passes marijuana decriminalization bill but plans changes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  29. ^ Fitton, Mark (2015-08-14). "Police body cameras OK'd statewide; law beefs up police misconduct tracking". Reboot Illinois. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  30. ^ Cara, Griffith (2015-01-20). "Illinois Lawsuit Challenges Tax Credit Program For Encouraging Job Retention". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  31. ^ Hilary, Gowins (2015-05-01). "Want to Fix Illinois' Economic Development Agency? Put it Out to Pasture". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  32. ^ Berlau, John (18 November 2014). "Declaration of Crowdfunding Independence" (PDF). OnPoint. Competitive Enterprise Institute (199). Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  33. ^ Yeagle, Patrick (14 May 2014). "Crowdfunding for businesses". Illinois Times. Springfield. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  34. ^ Graham, Meg; Carpenter, John (29 July 2015). "Rauner signs equity crowdfunding bill into law". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  35. ^ Tucker, Dorothy (12 March 2015). "Why Are People Fleeing Illinois? Three Personal Stories". CBS Chicago. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  36. ^ Hinz, Greg (18 August 2014). "Quinn unveils more good job news, but there's a catch". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  37. ^ Lucci, Michael (7 January 2015). "Illinois had record mass exodus in 2014". Illinois Policy Institute. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  38. ^ Reeder, Scott (30 April 2014). "Progressive Tax Falters". Illinois News Network. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  39. ^ Coffey, Chris (20 August 2015). "Chicago's Ban on Food Carts Slashes City Jobs, Revenue: Study". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  40. ^ Selvam, Ashok (24 September 2015). "Initial Food Cart Regulation Approved by Chicago Aldermen". Chicago Eater. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  41. ^ MacMillan, Douglas (29 January 2015). "Uber Laws: A Primer on Ridesharing Regulations". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  42. ^ Rasmussen, Kristina (8 March 2013). "Without fiscal notes, lawmakers still shopping without price tags". Illinois Policy. Illinois Policy Institute. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  43. ^ Parker, Mike (15 February 2015). "Lawmakers Push For Financial Impact Data On All Proposed Legislation". CBS Chicago. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  44. ^ Pilkington, Ed; Goldenberg, Suzanne (December 5, 2013). "State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  45. ^ Manchir, Michelle (August 23, 2012). "Glen Ellyn officials pledge more transparency". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  46. ^ DeVore, Sheryl (October 13, 2014). "Mundelein works hard for Sunshine Award". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  47. ^ Cavers, Mark. "Illinois taxpayers deserve transparency on government grants". State Integrity Blog. State Integrity Investigation. Illinois Policy Institute. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  48. ^ "Bill Status for SB3773". Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved 2015-02-08. 
  49. ^ Cox, Brian (August 8, 2012). "Food truck owners sue for right to sell in Evanston". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  50. ^ "Congratulations to our 2013 Lisagor Winners!". Chicago Headline Club. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  51. ^ "Congratulations to our Lisagor Winners!". Chicago Headline Club. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  52. ^ "Illinois Policy Action wins PR News award for its work protecting Illinois' fair, flat tax". 12 March 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  53. ^ Sobeck, Jillian (March 18, 2015). "2015 DesignEngage Client Wins Big at PR News' Nonprofit PR Awards Program". Engage. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 

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Coordinates: 41°52′47″N 87°37′58″W / 41.8798°N 87.6327°W / 41.8798; -87.6327