Wednesday, Jun 8, 2016
* Voices for Illinois Children…
The legislative session is over, and Illinois is about to enter its second year without a budget. Where does all of this leave the state?
Voices for Illinois Children’s Fiscal Policy Center offers eight takeaways to put matters in perspective and lead the way to a solution that gets Illinois back to making the public investments needed for the state to flourish.
1) Illinois is Dismantling the Foundations of a Prosperous, Compassionate State. As the Fiscal Policy Center has chronicled, the lack of a fully-funded state budget is causing our higher education system to fall apart, service providers to shut down, and our safety net to collapse.
2) Public Safety is Jeopardized. At a time when Illinois needs a coordinated, public health-centered approach to violence that plagues many communities, we are going in the opposite direction, cutting mental health and substance abuse treatment, after-school opportunities for youth, and programs like Redeploy that rehabilitate youth in their communities.
3) Lack of Resources Drives This Crisis. The real problem is Illinois doesn’t have the money it takes to meet public needs. After last year’s 25-percent tax cut, Illinois needs more than $7 billion in new revenue a year to return to the level of services of the 2015 fiscal year — the last year with a full budget.
4) Delay In Raising Revenue Means More Debt. Illinois is racking up debt even with deep cuts in spending, because the state must still pay for a variety of things mandated under state and federal law. Every day lawmakers and Governor Rauner fail to agree on raising critically needed revenue, Illinois’ finances worsen.
5) Debt = Less Investment in Future. Increasing the state’s backlog of unpaid bills not only means unfair payment delays to people providing goods and services. It also restricts what Illinois can do in the future. Debt must be repaid using future revenue, taking resources away from schools, transportation, public safety, and other building blocks of broad prosperity.
6) Without More Revenue, Increases to Public School Funding Crowds Out Other Investments. Without new revenue, the large proposed increases to public school funding mean that Illinois will further increase its debt and be forced to cut a range of services for children and families that support children’s healthy growth and development. We cannot continue to pit education against human services — children and families need both to succeed.
7) Short-Term “Emergency” Budget is Not a Solution. At best, a six-month emergency budget to get elected officials past the November elections only slows the deterioration of our higher education system and our social safety net. Much of any emergency six-month budget would likely just fill existing holes and would not sustain critical services into next fiscal year.
8) Governor Rauner Has Bill on His Desk that is Part of His Desired Six-Month Budget. The legislature passed by large bipartisan majorities Senate Bill 2038 to provide urgently needed funds to service providers owed $700 million by the state. The money sits in state accounts, unable to be spent until Governor Rauner signs the legislation he received nearly three weeks ago. More than 220 organizations, including Voices, have urged him to sign this bill.
To avoid further damage to our state, lawmakers and Governor Rauner must come together to enact a fully funded budget that raises billions of dollars in new revenue to support critical services and public investment in Illinois’ future. Anything else falls far short of strengthening our state.