Forefront’s Response to the Governor’s Budget Address

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

While a man-made disaster continues, Illinois burns

For a third year, the people of Illinois have heard a budget proposal from our leaders in Springfield that has no specific plan for addressing the now-dangerous levels of fiscal dysfunction in our state. Now entering our third year without a balanced state budget, a reasonable person is no longer able to avoid the conclusion we and others have reached: this is a man-made disaster and must be resolved with man-made solutions.

This crisis is not natural, inevitable, or unavoidable. The latest report from S&P Global Ratings says, “Illinois’ fiscal crisis is, in our view, a man-made byproduct of policy ultimatums placed upon the state’s budget process.” These are decisions deliberately made, or not made, as the case may be when it comes to the need for revenue. And these decisions are having a terrible impact on our state’s infrastructure. 

The state’s public education infrastructure is crumbling; from community colleges to public colleges and universities, higher education has not only been slammed with slashed budgets but are also struggling with brain drain crisis as students and faculty avoid our crumbling state. Our state’s ability to address critical human needs, such as domestic violence services which has been eliminated to the tune of at least $9 million, is disrupted to the point of failure. The social impact organizations with unpaid bills with the state are estimated to be owed at least $11.2 billion. According to the Comptroller’s own calculations, unpaid bills will balloon by $7 billion a fiscal year if something is not done. Meanwhile, people are choosing to leave Illinois because of the impacts this impasse has on their lives, creating a future crisis of talent and human potential to solve the problems created by today’s indecision. Ultimately, our state’s long term economic viability is not just damaged but imperiled.

While Illinois edges closer to the edge of fiscal collapse, those engaging in political gamesmanship in our Statehouse refuse to stop the slide while crowding out those bold champions willing to take difficult yet necessary steps to ensure the sustainability of this state and all its communities.

People and businesses will come back to Illinois when our socio-economic infrastructure is strong and stable. Currently, Illinois is constrained from maintaining the most basic level of infrastructure because of our revenue problem. We call on bold leaders to stand up and give serious and sustained attention to making revenue a part of a responsible, and actual, budget plan for all the people of Illinois.

 

Eric Weinheimer, President & CEO

Delia Coleman, Vice President, Strategy & Policy

 

Illinois needs a budget that reflects our values and priorities. We need a budget that makes us strong. NOW is a critical time for our elected leaders to hear from constituents that Illinois needs a fully funded, year-long responsible budget supported by adequate revenue. Take action by using the Responsible Budget Coalition's tool.