Come Feb. 19, we’ll hear the governor’s idea for a budget that features a dropoff in revenue in the middle of the fiscal year. That’s because the state's income tax reverts from 5 percent to 3.75 percent after Dec. 31. The fiscal year begins July 1. Larry Joseph, director of the Fiscal Policy Center of Voices for Illinois Children, is one of many concerned about how the state will provide services with less money. The budget speech, says Joseph, is just a speech.
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“What counts, really, is less the speech than the budget documents,” he says, “and in particular how he proposes to close the projected shortfall of $1.9 billion.” The next fiscal year, assuming twelve months with the lower income tax, would produce an approximately $4 billion shortfall. It won’t be a fun job for the governor and the General Assembly: “Find $2 billion in cuts, or they will have to let the state's backlog of unpaid bills accumulate again,” says Joseph, “or they can do what we recommend, which would be to maintain current revenue levels.”