Chicago Tonight

Spending and borrowing billions in the Illinois state budget

Monday, May 3, 2010

This week, the Illinois state legislature is debating Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed $52 billion budget for 2011. The budget suggests cutting spending by approximately $1.8 billion and borrowing more than $10 billion for general operating costs.
The Civic Federation recently released a report opposing the budget, stating that it does little to reduce the state’s $12.9 billion deficit. “The Governor’s recommended budget borrows billions to pay for operations while continuing to ignore the massive backlog of unpaid bills, which will make the State’s financial condition worse,” the report states.
A recent analysis from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability criticizes Illinois’ spending as irresponsible and says this budget will continue a cycle of debt and borrowing. “As long as this ’structural deficit’ remains unaddressed,” the Center says, “Illinois state government will continue to rely on significant amounts of debt, one-time revenue sources and irresponsible fiscal practices.”, a coalition of organizations and citizens initiated by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, says each Illinois household owes $25,000 just to cover the state’s public pensions and retiree health debt.
“Vote us out Nov. 2,” an editorial in the Sun., May 1 Chicago Tribune, says that lawmakers are trying to wrap up the budget by Friday in order to take a long vacation – and they’re considering borrowing billions to cover very basic state operations.
“That’s like taking out a mortgage to buy diapers and toothpaste,” the Tribune writes.
What do you think? Where in the state budget should lawmakers make cuts? Should they raise taxes? Should they do both?