Illinois Budget

Volume V of the Fully Funding the EBF series keeps adjustments to CTBA’s model to align more closely with the Illinois State Board of Education’s methodology and reporting but based on the Enacted Fiscal Year 2023 General Fund Budget appropriations for the Evidence-Based Funding formula. This change is made to the overall Adequacy Gap funding level (changes from 100% to 90% to accommodate for Federal funding). This change in methodology is applied in the same manner as it was for the four scenarios found in the Fully Funding the EBF series Volume V.

Released March 29, 2022

The FY 2023 Proposed General Fund Budget (the “FY 2023 GF Proposal”) makes one fact abundantly clear: spending on services is not driving the state’s fiscal problems. Big picture, Illinois’ ongoing disinvestment in General Fund services is harming communities across the state for one simple reason: over 95 percent of all such spending goes to the four, core areas of Education (including Early Childhood, K-12, and Higher Education), Healthcare, Human Services, and Public Safety. The FY 2023 GF Budget Proposal is a change of pace, reversing the trend of disinvesting in General Fund services by increasing spending for every single General Fund service category and making moves to get Illinois’ fiscal house in order.

Released November 9, 2021

This past Spring when the General Assembly and Governor were developing a General Fund budget for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2022, there was a significant amount of new revenue on the table. For instance, Illinois state government received around $11 billion in federal aid for General Fund use under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). ARPA came on the heels of various other federal relief initiatives that passed in 2020—most notably the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). Despite both record federal assistance and a boost in state-based revenue, Illinois’ long-term fiscal challenges are significant. Unfortunately, in addition to being significant, the state’s fiscal shortcomings are also nothing new. And in FY 2025, Illinois will no longer have federal pandemic relief aid to support its General Fund. The revenue shortfall, however, will be more significant than that because of the structural deficit in the state’s General Fund. A structural deficit exists when annual revenue growth is not sufficient to cover the cost of providing the same level of public services from one fiscal year into the next, adjusting solely for changes in inflation and population, and assuming a normal economy.

Released September 23, 2021

Contrary to what the governor proposed in the FY 2022 General Fund budget proposal, K-12 funding under the Evidence-Based Funding formula (EBF) resumed funding of the $300 million Minimum Funding Level in the FY 2022 Enacted General Fund Budget, as it had in FYs 2018,2019, and 2020. This is certainly better than being held level with the prior fiscal year, as was done in FY 2021.

Volume IV of the Fully Funding the EBF series makes some minor adjustments to CTBA’s model to align more closely with the Illinois State Board of Education’s methodology and reporting. This change is made to the overall Adequacy Gap funding level (changes from 100% to 90% to accommodate for Federal funding). This change in methodology is applied to the four scenarios found in the Fully Funding the EBF series Volume Three.

Released July 22, 2021

Shortly after the FY 2022 General Fund budget proposal in February 2021, the sobering economic forecast significantly changed. On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden secured passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). ARPA came on the heels of various other federal relief initiatives that passed in 2020—most notably the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). When considered together, nearly $12 billion in federal relief funding has been designated to cover state-level spending on core public services in Illinois over fiscal years 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024.

Yet, despite obtaining the new federal and state funding, the FY 2022 Enacted General Fund Budget that passed into law (“P.A. 102-0017”) increases overall net spending on core services in FY 2022 by just $586 million over FY 2021 levels, in nominal, non-inflation-adjusted dollars. That is notable for one simple reason: the total year-to-year increase in General Fund spending is less in nominal dollars than the $655 million in new recurring revenue the state raised by eliminating the tax expenditures—and is significantly less than the $3.8 billion in federal relief funding the state utilized in FY 2022. Indeed, after adjusting for inflation, total net General Fund spending on services in FY 2022 is scheduled to be only $24 million—or 0.1 percent—more in real terms than it was in FY 2021. 

Released May 13, 2021

To address some of the shortcomings that have created the structural deficit in the state’s fiscal system, the FY 2022 GF Proposal includes a number of initiatives designed to generate new revenue for the General Fund.  Key among these are initiatives that would:

(i) eliminate or modify a number of tax breaks—which are more accurately described as “tax expenditures”—the state currently grants to corporations, to generate some $932 million in General Fund revenue for FY 2022; and

(ii) “decouple” Illinois from tax expenditures granted to businesses by the federal government, that cannot be expected to generate any benefit in the state, but would cause the loss of anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion in annual General Fund Revenue.

Released March 16, 2021

In the FY 2022 General Fund budget proposal the Governor announced in February, K-12 funding under the Evidence-Based Funding formula (EBF) is once again held level with FY 2020, in nominal, non-inflation adjusted dollars. While that is certainly better than being cut from FY 2020 levels in nominal dollars, it represents a step backward. By not providing additional new funding for the EBF, the state is extending the time it would take to fully fund the EBF by two years – if the state continues to put in a minimum of $300 million yearly beginning in FY 2023. That two year extension would mean extending the timeline to more than four times longer than what is required by statute. 

This update is the third installment in the Fully Funding the EBF Series.

Released March 10, 2021

The FY 2022 Proposed General Fund Budget (the “FY 2022 GF Proposal”) makes one fact abundantly clear: spending on services is not driving the state’s fiscal problems.  Big picture, Illinois’ ongoing disinvestment in General Fund services is harming communities across the state for one simple reason: over 95 percent of all such spending goes to the four, core areas of Education (including Early Childhood, K-12, and Higher Education), Healthcare, Human Services, and Public Safety.

Released February 16, 2021

Without new revenue available from the proposed Fair Tax, short-term borrowing, Federal Aid, and cutting some expenditures has allowed Illinois to hold on during the current fiscal year. But this is a short-term solution, and not a sustainable solution in tackling the long-term fiscal woes of Illinois. In our new short report, “Increasing the Income Tax Rate: One Method for Addressing Illinois’ Long-term Fiscal Problems” CTBA analyzes potential benefits of increasing the income tax rate, while ensuring that any increase in the income tax address the regressivity of a flat rate income tax structure through refundable tax credits.

Released October 1, 2020

On November 3rd, 2020, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to ratify the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would eliminate the mandate that state income taxes be assessed using only one flat rate.

This is a crucial moment for Illinois since it has historically been, and currently remains, one of the most unfair taxing states in the nation. From a textbook standpoint, an “unfair” tax system is a regressive tax system—that is, one that imposes a greater tax burden on low- and middle-income families than on affluent families, when tax burden is measured as a percentage of income.  It is unfair because such a system fails to allocate tax burden in a manner that correlates with ability to pay, thereby worsening the substantial growth in income inequality that has occurred in the private sector over the last four decades. But building fairness into a state tax system is difficult, given that every tax—or fee for that matter—which is available to fund public services provided at the state or local level is regressive except for one: the income tax.  The income tax is the only tax that can actually be designed to comport with ability to pay and hence create some tax fairness, because it is the only tax that can be designed to assess higher tax rates on higher levels of income, and lower rates on lower levels of income.

Unfortunately, Article IX, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution mandates that the state income tax be imposed at one flat rate across all levels of income. Hence, Illinois is constitutionally prohibited from utilizing the income tax to play the essential tax policy role of offsetting the natural regressivity of every other tax and fee imposed at either the state or local level. In fact, Illinois’ inability to build some fairness into its tax system through implementation of a graduated rate income tax has played a major role in driving the ongoing deficits in the state’s General Fund, while also hampering private sector economic growth.  The good news is a genuine opportunity for meaningful reform of the Illinois income tax now exists. That is because on June 5, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0008 (“P.A. 101-0008”) into law. If implemented, this legislation will create a new, graduated rate income tax structure, frequently referred to as the “Fair Tax” by proponents, to replace the state’s current flat rate income tax.

To learn more about how the Fair Tax not only ties income tax burden to ability to pay, but also raises new revenue in a manner that will effectively help eliminate some of the long-term structural flaws that have consistently made Illinois’ overall tax system one of the most unfair and poorly performing in the nation, please read the new CTBA Report, “Implementing the “Fair Tax” Will Help the Illinois Fiscal System Respond Better to the Modern Economy While Promoting Tax Fairness.”

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