Illinois budget


When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts.   It's easy to understand.  it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.

WUIS'  Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.   Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. 

Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.

The city of Springfield approved a nearly 600 million dollar budget Wednesday for the new fiscal year.

New to the budget this year is an inspector general position, which officials set aside 79 thousand dollars to fund. 

Council member Cory Jobe before making the position permanent, they will look at results from the first year.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House took a key first step in the state budgeting process Tuesday.

It adopted what's called a "revenue estimate" — how much money Illinois is expected to be able to spend in the next fiscal year.

The cap, of $34.495 billion, is significant in several ways: It's about a billion less than last year's number, which means lawmakers are going to have extend the tax increase or find other sources of money, or they'll have to make a lot of cuts. On the other hand, it's not as bad as some people had feared.

Host Jamey Dunn and guests Charlie Wheeler (UIS), Nicole Wilson (24/7 News), and Andy Maloney (Chicago Law Bulletin) analyze the recent Republican primary debate for Governor and discuss other primary issues, the budget, and upcoming bills.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

The top Democrat in the Illinois Senate on Monday went on the offensive over state spending. Senate President John Cullerton is calling out the Republicans running for governor.

Cullerton laid out the hits expected in next year's budget, including the roll back of the income tax hike and mandatory spending increases on things like personnel and healthcare for the poor. Add it up, Cullerton says, and it's a nearly $3 billion hole.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Among the topics this week: State Treasurer Dan Rutherford denies allegations of sexual harassment and Governor Pat Quinn moves the annual Budget Address to late March.

  House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to cut the state's corporate tax rate in half. It's an apparent about face on tax policy that's left some Republicans scratching their heads.

Madigan says his proposal aims to create a friendlier business climate in Illinois. Corporations would pay a 3.5 percent tax, down from the current 7 percent.

It's a sharp turn from three years ago when Madigan pushed to increase the corporate tax rate along with the individual income tax.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge.  But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem.  That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.

About five hundred Springfield students were forced out of the public schools last month for failing to have required physicals and immunizations. The number has since dropped to 87 kids missing classes. The deadline was October 15th. School board member Mike Zimmers says the policy should be changed for next year to have the deadline before school gets underway.

"Parents just need to plan, you know when they start thinking about ... we need to get school clothes or school supplies -- in your mindset just think, we need to get physicals, we need to get shots,” said Zimmers.

Bipartisan Call To Work Together On Budget

Oct 30, 2013
Printed budgets

Two state senators say partisan bickering over the state's budget should be set aside for the sake of Illinois residents.  

Park Ridge Democrat Dan Kotowski and McHenry Republican Pam Althoff touted the results of a survey of Illinois residents at a Tuesday news conference in Chicago.  

Kotowski says both Democrats and Republicans want many of the same things out of the state's budget. That includes more of the state's budget being put toward growing businesses, ensuring public safety and improving infrastructure.  


  Even if Illinois keeps its higher income tax rate, a new report projects the state is headed toward deficit spending. 

Illinois residents are paying a 5-percent tax on their income. It's been that way since 2011.

According to a new report from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, that tax money helped balance Illinois' budget this year.

But economist David Merriman, who directed the project, says that won't last.

Budgeting for Results
Brian Mackey/WUIS

An Illinois government panel trying to help the state set spending priorities is already at work on next year's budget. But after two years, the group is still waiting for the chance to make its mark on spending.

The idea behind Budgeting for Results is to focus state spending on agencies and programs that meet a list of seven priorities, like education or public safety.

But although the Budgeting for Results Commission has been meeting, taking testimony, and publishing reports for about two years, its work has yet to affect the budget.

Gov. Pat Quinn says lawmakers who didn't send him a pension overhaul bill have let down Illinois taxpayers.  
The Chicago Democrat set Tuesday as a deadline for a bipartisan pension panel to report back with a plan. That was even as members of the so-called conference committee formed last month called his deadline arbitrary and irresponsible.  
Quinn says there'll be consequences for lawmakers. He's declined to say exactly what he'd do.  

After years of state budget cuts, Illinois schools will get roughly level funding under legislation signed into law Thursday. But Governor Pat Quinn says it's still not enough.

Earlier this year, Quinn said Illinois' budget problems meant the state had to reduce school spending. But lawmakers decided not to cut the education budget, in part because Illinois collected more taxes in April than it anticipated.

The extra money will go to elementary and high schools, community colleges, and public universities. It also funds MAP grants for needy college students.

Another key component of the Illinois state budget moved through the General Assembly on Wednesday. The Democrats' spending plan prevents what could have been steep cuts for schools, but Republicans say students outside Chicago are getting shortchanged.

  Democrats are approving mostly level funding for elementary and high schools in Illinois. That's significant because education spending, like most areas of the state budget, has been cut in recent years. And Gov. Pat Quinn's budget proposal said even deeper cuts would be necessary.

The bulk of a new state budget passed out of the Illinois House Tuesday, and now heads to the Senate. It's far less harsh than lawmakers had been predicting at the start of the legislative session.

Despite years of cuts to the Illinois state budget ... even more are ahead.  Legislators are still deciding where else they can slash spending.


"Human services" is a legislative phrase Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says covers:

HARRIS: "All the state departments  dealing with health care, senior services, children services, so the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Medicaid, human services, mental health, substance abuse, Department of Aging, DCFS, public health and veterans... "

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, chairs the Asian-American caucus.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Democrats' new super-majorities promise to enhance the power of individual caucuses.

In the frenzied final hours of the 2005 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly, the push to finalize a new state budget suddenly ground to a halt when a bloc of Democratic lawmakers announced they couldn't support the spending plan.

Without their votes, there was no way the Democratic majority could adopt a budget without Republican input, raising speculation that the session could go into overtime.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

In February, when Gov. Pat Quinn presented his spending plan for next fiscal year, all eyes were on his budget proposal. But most people — politicians, reporters and Statehouse commentators alike — only focus on four out of hundreds of funds when it comes time to craft the state’s budget each year.


Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Gov. Pat Quinn readies the FY 2013 state budget he is to unveil in a few weeks, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Illinois is in really bad shape, a financial basket case about ready to go belly up.

The lamentations are led by the usual suspects, Republicans trying to gain partisan advantage for this year's elections and hyperventilating editorial writers who need to stop, take a deep breath and get a grip on reality.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Now is the time when many publications proclaim their choices for “___ of the Year.” My pick for the 2011 word of the year is “gridlock.”


Gridlock is no longer just what motorists experience at rush hour; it’s also the inability of the federal and state governments to initiate potential solutions to the most critical problems of the day.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

“I told them, ‘It’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better,’” Sen. John Sullivan, a Democrat from Rushville said of a recent string of a dozen town hall meetings where he explained state budget cuts to voters in his district. 

After lawmakers trimmed the state budget this spring, local governments — many of which have seen their own budget shortfalls during the recent economic crisis — will feel an even greater pinch as the reductions trickle down. 

Jamey Dunn headshot 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A new legislative session and Gov. Pat Quinn’s first term as the elected governor of Illinois begin this month. While the legislature passed some historic measures during its veto session, little was done to address the state’s gaping budget deficit and crushing backlog of unpaid bills.

Both the lawmakers and the governor need to make some resolutions for the New Year, stick to them and put some solutions in place. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Does the Illinois Constitution mandate that the state budget be balanced each year?

One’s initial inclination is to respond, “Yes, of course, it says so in the Finance Article.” But a quick check of the actual record in the four decades since the charter was ratified suggests the answer is a bit less straightforward.

The question gained new interest a few weeks ago after House Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged to reporters that the spending plan newly minted by legislative Democrats was not balanced.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The fiscal fiasco otherwise known as state budget-making has a lot of Illinoisans searching for descriptive terms harsh enough to fully express their disdain for state legislators.

Lawmakers left Springfield a few weeks ago without accomplishing the only chore they really needed to do before their self-imposed May 7 adjournment deadline — fashion a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Can Illinois finish in the money in Round II of Race to the Top?

The answer could hinge on budget decisions that state lawmakers will make in coming days.

At stake is as much as $400 million to underwrite efforts to improve Illinois schools under Race to the Top, the education centerpiece of the Obama administration.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois faces its worst fiscal crisis in eight decades, a daunting challenge for the state’s purported leaders. So how have they responded?

In a word, abysmally. Indeed, the leadership deficit almost rivals the state’s dollar shortfall. Consider:

In his budget memo last month — at 21 minutes, too short and devoid of specifics to merit being called an address — Gov. Pat Quinn essentially punted.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

“Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was.” – Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime.

When Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol to embark on their 2010 spring session, they’ll find new laptop computers. It is perhaps the only truly new item competing for their attention in the coming months.

Their legislative agenda is a burgeoning plate of political leftovers chock full of issues put off and punted in recent years, each snowballing the consequences for taxpayers and those who rely on state services or funding.

Kurt Erickson
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Thomson, a maximum-security prison in northwestern Illinois, has sat virtually empty since it was completed in 2001. The federal government announced plans to buy it in mid-December.

On the day before Veterans Day, Gov. Pat Quinn held an event in Chicago to announce the site for a new state-run nursing home for veterans.

The facility, to be paid for by the long-awaited capital construction program that lawmakers approved last summer, would be the state’s fifth veterans’ home and the first in the Chicago area.

Pharmacist David Mikus of the Medicine Shoppe in Springfield
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Todd Evers is in constant conversation with his bank, most recently in August, to prepare for the “inevitable what if.” What if the state stops paying?

He has had to borrow money twice a year for the past decade to keep open his group of pharmacies in Collinsville and the St. Louis area as he waits for a check from the Illinois comptroller that will pay him for services he provided to public aid customers months ago.