Journal Standard

At the Capitol: A look at where the money is going

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Illinois Budget. This is an effort to simplify a very complex problem involving billions of dollars.

Our annual budget this next fiscal year is approximately $58 billion — of that amount, you the taxpayers are expected to send us $33,719,000,000 in tax dollars. The difference between those two numbers is money we receive as reimbursement from the federal government and some other sources. It is predominately motor fuel tax that is specifically designated for such things as roads and bridges. It is tax money that you pay each time you pull up to the pump and put gas in your car. It is not part of what we call GRF or General Revenue Fund.

Of the $33,719,000,000 GRF that you will send us, here is the breakdown of how it will be spent. First and foremost is non discretionary spending. These are obligations that must be made.

Number 1, Our pension obligation is $5.1 billion (this is the state’s portion of the pension expense not including the employee contributions).

Number 2 is statutory transfer out money equaling $2.1 billion. This is money that we have collected, and we owe a percentage back to local governments such as sales tax revenues.

Number 3 is our group insurance obligation totaling $1.2 billion. This is the state’s portion of the state workers’ insurance programs not including the employee contributions.

Number 4 is our debt services or our obligation for money we have borrowed, both principle and interest, totaling approximately $2.2 billion.

Number 5 is Medicaid. You the taxpayer are on the hook for $6,638,000,000. (Our total Medicaid obligation this year is approximately $15 billion including federal reimbursements). Yes, you are right — tax payers are on the hook for all of it.

The above five “must be made” expenditures total approximately $17.2 billion. There is another $219 million in non-discretionary expenditures bringing the total to $17.419 billion.

If you do the math that leaves $16,300,000,000 for the five appropriations committees to divide which is close to $1 billion less than available funds last year.

If your eyes haven’t yet glazed over here is how it allocates out. Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations receive 39.8 percent of funding totaling $6.491 billion, a cut of $363 million. Higher Education receives 12.1 percent totaling $1.978 billion, a cut of $110 million. General Services receives 7.1 percent or $1.165 billion, a cut of $65 million. Human Services appropriations (Medicaid removed) receives 31.2 percent of funding totaling $5.87 billion, a cut of $284 million. Public Safety appropriations receives 9.7 percent of funding or $1.576 billion, a cut of $88 million.

There will not be a happy agency in Illinois government but this is where the rubber meets the road.