Illinois better fix its budget soon or else taxpayers and those reliant on social services will be hurting bad. That’s according to the national group State Budget Solutions.
With more than 30 weeks into the current fiscal year without a budget, Governor Bruce Rauner is set to deliver his second budget address. (You can hear it live today on The Big Z at Noon)
Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions, said his group has been watching Illinois closely and if years of structural deficits, growing unfunded liabilities, and decreased bond ratings aren’t addressed, taxpayers and the state’s most vulnerable will be hurt by increased taxes and cuts to services to pay off old bills.
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Williams said there is a solution.
Williams said Illinois’ governor and lawmakers “need to take a hard look at what are the core functions of government in Illinois and then rank the programs and then look at outcome measures.”
“What are we getting for what the money’s worth?” Williams asked.
Several sources, from the Comptroller to various lawmakers, say without a budget in place, court orders, consent decrees and a growing backlog of bills put the state on pace to be more than $6 billion in the red if not more by the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.
Meanwhile Williams said Illinois’ budget problems are a boom for neighboring states and reforms are needed to reverse the trend.
While Governor Rauner has pushed all year for reforms to the state’s business climate as a way to spur on more economic activity, leading Democrats contend those are non-budget issues and would diminish the working class.
Williams said the jobs climate drives a state’s economy and right now neighboring states are reaping jobs from Illinois just from the mere mention of tax increases without reforms.
“When they hear that, Governor Walker is trying to give them some kind of encouragement to come to their state,” Williams said, “or Governor Pence is giving them encouragement to come to their state--he’s got a sign at the border saying ‘Welcome to Indiana, taxes are lower than in Illinois.’”
Illinois has seen tens of thousands of residents leave the the Land of Lincoln for other states in the past couple of years and for 2015 there were 3,000 fewer jobs than the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile Pew Charitable Trusts says next to Nevada Illinois is the slowest growing state since the beginning of the 2007 recession.