Daily Egyptian

Illinois budget impasse projected to create $6.2 billion more in debt by June 30, comptroller says

By Kevin Hoffman, Reboot Illinois

If Illinois continues spending at its current rate without a budget, the state is projected to end the fiscal year $6.2 billion more in debt.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced the revised deficit projection during a press conference Tuesday. She said court orders and consent decrees have required the state to keep spending at FY 2015 levels and to maintain existing service levels no matter the cost. As a result, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services are expected to surpass last year’s appropriations by $1.2 billion.

On top of that, the state is bringing in roughly $5 billion less because of the sunset of the temporary income tax hike on Jan. 1.

Advertisement

“That is $6.2 billion more in debt for a state that already had billions of dollars in backlogged bills waiting to be paid,” Munger said. “The situation without a budget is a little like a credit card limit. You can spend until you hit that limit — but in this case, the courts have essentially removed the limit and the state has blown through the caps to the tune of $1.2 billion. Without a budget, the spending is open-ended and our fiscal path is catastrophic.”

To put that number into context, Munger listed things that could be bought with $6.2 billion, which include both teams in this year’s Super Bowl, the Willis (aka Sears) Tower and two round-trip tickets to the moon.

Munger said she was hopeful a budget would be passed, pointing to recent agreements reached between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders, but said they need to stop blaming each other and put the people of Illinois first.

While Munger acknowledged lawmakers will have to look at revenue improvements, she said relying solely on new revenue without spending cuts to get the state out of debt would result in income tax rates doubling.

“If we solve this problem on revenue alone, we will be looking at raising our tax rate in Illinois from 3.75 percent up to somewhere between 7 and 8 percent,” Munger said. “I don’t know any legislator who would vote for that and I don’t know many businesses that would stay in Illinois for that.”

(c) 2016 Reboot Illinois

Visit Reboot Illinois at www.rebootillinois.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University