State Budget

Released February 29, 2024

State funding for Illinois colleges and universities in FY 2024 was still some 39% lower than it was in FY 2000 when adjusting for inflation and this long-term disinvestment in higher education over the last 20 years has had significant consequences. It has forced public universities to increase their tuition and fees, causing the average cost of in-state tuition at Illinois’ public universities to increase 121 percent, substantially higher than the national average in this time period, making college in Illinois considerably less affordable. It has forced virtually all Illinois students to incur student loans in order to pay for college, especially Black and Latinx students, perpetuating an educational attainment gap. This report touches on the widespread issue of student debt and why Illinois needs to prioritize investing adequately in its public higher education system.

Released August 31, 2023

On June 7, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed the General Fund Budget for FY 2024 into law (the “FY 2024 Enacted GF Budget”). This budget was markedly different than any previous one proposed by Pritzker and passed by the General Assembly—or any other Illinois governor and General Assembly dating back to Jim Edgar in the mid-1990s, for one, simple reason: Illinois’ General Fund is in the healthiest fiscal condition it has been for decades.

In fact, when it comes to the health of the state’s General Fund, things have changed dramatically since Governor Pritzker was first sworn into office. Back then in 2019, Governor Pritzker inherited an $8 billion backlog of unpaid bills from Governor Rauner’s Administration. That was significant, as it 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 at any time over the prior two decades plus.

Many of the structural fiscal flaws that created years of deficits remain in place. Which means Illinois decision-makers have the rare opportunity to consider reforming the state’s fiscal system not during a crisis—but while the General Fund is on an upward trajectory, with an eye toward building the capacity needed to sustain investments in core services over the long haul. The FY 2024 Enacted GF Budget analysis takes an in depth look at Illinois’ revenue and spending in the General Fund for the current fiscal year.

Released March 28, 2023

After adjusting for inflation, state funding for Illinois colleges and universities has fallen by nearly 50% since 2000, while tuition has more than doubled, making it increasingly difficult for students from low- and middle-income families generally, and Black and Latinx students specifically, to afford getting a higher education degree. Despite growing evidence that a college degree is more important than ever for success in the labor market and in spite of recent funding increases, the report finds that, after inflation, Illinois’ General Fund support for Higher Education has declined significantly over the last two decades, and is 46 percent less now in real terms than in 2000. To help make up for that loss of General Fund support, the average annual student tuition and fee cost of attending a public four-year university in Illinois increased by 115 percent—after inflation—between 2000 and 2021. This Report both documents the positive impact gaining a college education has on everything from wages, economic development, and community health and wellbeing, to social mobility, and calls upon the Illinois General Assembly to invest adequate resources in higher education.

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.

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