COVID-19

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 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 July 12, 2021

On March 11, 2021, the Biden Administration secured passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”), which provides fiscal relief designed to counter economic issues created by the pandemic. ARPA is considerable in size and provides a total of $1.9 trillion in federal aid for state and local governments to use to support the provision of various core public services such as healthcare, human services, and education, as well as to infrastructure.

Given the significant federal aid flowing through ARPA, CTBA has compiled the following answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about that legislation and how it will impact Illinois.  

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 2, 2021

Part of the federal economic stimulus created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, involved increasing the tax relief businesses could claim under the existing net operating loss and excess business loss tax breaks. Among other things, the Cares Act made these tax cuts retroactive, meaning businesses can claim losses and reduce their tax liability for years in which the pandemic had no impact on their profitability. CTBA provides reasoning for supporting decoupling from Federal CARES Act Tax Breaks.

Released August 19, 2020

If the Illinois FY 2021 Enacted General Fund Budget proves anything, it is that no matter how much things change in the world at large, the structural revenue problems in the state’s budget remain the same. Consider that, not even accounting for the impact of COVID-19, Illinois would nonetheless still have a General Fund deficit—meaning the state would not have had enough current revenue to cover some spending on public services this year—even if the pandemic never happened.

Despite the poor performance of the state’s revenue system over time, many commentators and editorial boards still try to blame the state’s historic, recurring deficit problems on overspending for services. The data, however, have simply never supported that canard, which is explained at length in this Report. The long-term structural deficit in Illinois’ General Fund—which will certainly become worse over the next few years as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy is projected to drive revenue down significantly in all 50 states—is a real cause for concern.

A structural deficit like the one in Illinois’ General Fund, which is demonstrably driven by an underperforming revenue system, cannot be eliminated without raising taxes. In fact, Governor Pritzker has worked with the General Assembly to pass a tax reform package—known as the “Fair Tax”—predicated on replacing the flat rate individual income tax Illinois currently imposes with a graduated rate income tax. Recognizing the difficult political battle that will be waged over the Fair Tax, Governor Pritzker introduced two different General Fund budget proposals for FY 2021. But all of that happened before COVID-19 devasted the economy and drove down tax revenue in all 50 states, including Illinois. 

So, as expected, the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly worsened the state’s fiscal condition. That said, the analysis in this Report makes it clear that, even if the coronavirus had never happened, the fiscal shortcomings that plague Illinois’ General Fund are long-term, material, and structural, and cannot be resolved without comprehensively reforming the state’s tax policy.