Released May 2, 2023
On February 15, 2023, Governor Pritzker delivered the first budget address of his second term to the 103rd General Assembly. This budget address was markedly different than any previous one delivered by Pritzker—or any other Illinois governor dating back to Jim Edgar in the mid-1990s. The reason: Illinois’ General Fund is in the healthiest fiscal condition it has been for decades.
Things have definitely changed since Governor Pritzker was first sworn into office in 2019. Back then, he inherited an $8 billion backlog of unpaid bills from Governor Rauner’s Administration. A budget hole of that size meant roughly 30 percent of all General Fund expenditures during Rauner’s final year as governor constituted deficit spending. Unfortunately, that was also nothing new, as Illinois had failed to produce anything close to a balanced budget in its General Fund for well over two decades prior.
Released July 1, 2022
Due to Illinois’ long-term, structural fiscal challenges, citizens of Illinois have grown accustomed to General Fund budgets that are focused on cutting, or limiting the cuts to, core services. Which is truly unfortunate, given that 95 percent of all General Fund expenditures on services go to the four core areas of Education, Healthcare, Human Services, and Public Safety. However this past April, the Illinois General assembly passed a General Fund budget for FY 2023 (the “FY 2023 Enacted GF Budget”) that was notably different from the vast majority of budgets passed into law over the last twenty-some odd years. That is because, rather than focus on cuts, the FY 2023 Enacted GF Budget calls for increasing year-to-year spending in every one of those four core service areas. This counters a trend of imposing real, inflation-adjusted cuts to all or most core services that goes all the way back to FY 2000. Moreover, the FY 2023 Enacted GF Budget—when considered in combination with the supplemental appropriations that were passed covering certain aspects of the FY 2022 Enacted General Fund Budget (the “FY 2022 Enacted GF Budget”)—includes a commitment to being fiscally responsible that is far more substantive than rhetorical. This also stands in stark contrast to most General Fund budgets enacted over the last two decades, which on the whole paid lip-service to being responsible—without implementing initiatives that strengthened Illinois’ fiscal system in any meaningful way.
Read the full report to learn more about the initiatives taken to offset economic challenges and decades of service cuts for Illinois.
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
For two decades, Higher Education in Illinois has been left behind. Despite the evidence and relationship between educational attainment and economic viability, Higher Education in Illinois continues to be divested. CTBA has updated and improved its prior report, Illinois’ Two-Decade Disinvestment in Higher Education, with Illinois’ Continued Disinvestment in Higher Education. This updated report highlights that General Fund appropriation for Higher Education in Illinois has been less than it was in FY2000. While FY2022 appropriations are more than FY 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the state of Higher Education funding with Illinois still not providing enough to make Higher Education affordable for many students in Illinois. This means that public universities and community colleges must rely more heavily on tuition and fees. In fact, average in-state tuition at an Illinois four-year public university has increased 149 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2020.
In Illinois’ Continued Disinvestment in Higher Education, CTBA shines a new light on everything from economic impacts of General Fund appropriations for Higher Education in Illinois, the reliability of public institutions on tuition and fees, which disproportionately affects low-income students and students of color, and how the growing cost of college has contributed to a decrease in enrollment in our public colleges and universities, only to be made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 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 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.