WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois budget

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline, which means there's no one left to answer the phone.

For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer. Try calling now, and there's a message saying: "Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to patch a 1.6-billion-dollar hole in the current state budget.

  The budget was supposed to get Illinois through June, but already the state's running out of money for things like court reporters and prison guards. That’s in part because Democrats passed an incomplete budget last year — not wanting to raise taxes or cut spending.

Now Democrats and Republicans — including Gov. Bruce Rauner — say they’ve found a solution. But it continues to mostly avoid that difficult choice.

Macomb and Monmouth Ask for Full State Funding

Mar 18, 2015
Rich Egger

The Macomb City Council is sending a letter to the Governor and Legislature asking to receive full funding from the state.

Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed cutting in half local government’s share of the state’s income tax revenue.

State lawmakers approved a budget that relies on a higher income tax rate.

But Governor Bruce Rauner won the office on a platform of lower taxes.

Now - Illinois faces an immediate $1.6 billion dollar budget hole.

Rauner says lawmakers are talking about sweeping funds from some programs into more “essential” ones.

"But they’re arguing among themselves what’s non-essential."

Rauner has said for weeks that he’s close to resolving the issue with legislative leaders.

The Budget Address from Bruce Rauner

Feb 18, 2015
Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered a half-hour budget address to state lawmakers Wednesday.

County Fairs Hit Hard By Illinois Budget Cuts

Feb 15, 2015
Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs

The possibility of budget cuts makes the future of agricultural fairs in Illinois unknown.

Rauner: Voters were Misled on Sorry State Finances

Dec 2, 2014
Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner told reporters the state's finances are in terrible shape.

Wall Street's view of Illinois' financial health has taken a hit, thanks largely to the state budget that took effect at the start of this month. Pensions also continue to be a drag. 

When Illinois Democrats passed the state's latest budget, many seemed to hold their nose. Credit ratings agencies are more direct: Standard & Poors has revised Illinois' credit outlook to "negative." 

Illinois Tourism Sets Another Record

Jul 14, 2014

There were more than 100 million visitors to Illinois in 2013. State agencies aim to grow those numbers more in the face of budget cuts. 

For the third year in a row, Illinois broke its own record for visitors to the state. In 2013, travelers spent $34.5 billion dollars in Illinois, according to the state's office of tourism.

Illinois Ends Fiscal Year In The Black...Temporarily

Jul 10, 2014

The state took in over a billion dollars more in taxes than the prior year, thanks to an uptick in sales tax money.  Personal income tax revenue also rose , but the amount coming from corporate income taxes dropped. It's something Jim Muschinske, a budget forecaster for the state, said was predicted.

"That was not unexpected. In fact, we actually did better this fiscal year than what was initially assumed back when the budget was passed," Muschinske said.

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made a bit of a change to the state budget that goes into effect Tuesday—a change meant to play well with voters.

  It's the last day of the fiscal year for the State of Illinois, which means the pressure is on for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a new budget into law.

There's nothing on the governor's public schedule for today, but that doesn't mean he won't be busy making official the spending plan passed by his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly.

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has unveiled what he says is phase three of his plans to "Restore Illinois." It's focused on how the state taxes businesses.

In a statement — he released the plan via social media, rather than at a live event — Rauner says he wants to close "special interest loopholes."

Like a tax break for buying a racehorse.

And, in a risky move as he seeks to win newspaper editorial boards' endorsements, he wants Illinois to begin taxing newsprint.

WIU Outlines Spending Plan for Next Year

Jun 11, 2014
401(K)2012 / Flickr Creative Commons

Western Illinois University has a preliminary spending plan in place for next year.

State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) feel the region won’t be helped or hurt by the state spending plan that begins July 1, 2014.

The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit.

Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.

Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.

The General Assembly finished its legislative session shortly after midnight Saturday, approving a billion-dollar road construction program.

Democrats started the session with an ambitious agenda: raise the minimum wage, boost college assistance for low-income students, maybe even change Illinois' flat tax into a graduated one. In the end, none of that happened.

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

  Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he's come to an agreement on state spending with the speaker of the Illinois House. But Cullerton is leaving the door open for an income tax hike after the November election.

Two months after Governor Pat Quinn laid out his vision for Illinois' budget, the House of Representatives has approved a state spending plan. Quinn presented two options: make 2011's temporary tax hike permanent, or make steep cuts across government. Lawmakers considered those options and chose ... neither.

Quinn has been clear about the potential consequences of letting Illinois' income tax rate drop, as it's scheduled to do at the end of the year.

A Slow Go for Illinois' Economy

Mar 28, 2014
Flickr Commons / Markheybo

An economist predicts raising the minimum wage would hurt already poor job growth in Illinois.

  Plenty can, and will, happen before voters go to the polls in November to chose their next governor. But a central theme of the campaign emerged Wednesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making permanent what was supposed to have been a temporary hike in the state's income tax. His Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, favors letting the increase lapse.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said he will call a vote this spring on making the state's temporary income tax increase permanent.

Rich Egger

Illinois schools – especially downstate schools – have been encouraged to consolidate.  But the state has not come through with all the funding promised for consolidations.

Brian Mackey

Money will likely be tight for politicians crafting Illinois’ next budget, despite a pension law that's supposed to save $160 billion.

Illinois lawmakers worked 90 minutes overtime to complete work on the new state budget. But they still have not addressed concerns with the state's pension system.

The Budget

The  Democratic budget imposes cuts throughout state government. But Republicans say the high spending levels mean the temporary income tax increase will have to be made permanent.

Democrats were attacked from within, too.

Democratic Senator Kimberly Lightford railed against what she said is too little money for higher education.

Illinois legislators face more bad budget news. 

A report from Chicago's Civic Federation said the massive backlog of unpaid bills is about to get much worse.

Illinois is expected to owe more than $9 billion by this summer. The figure is expected to continue rising and could hit nearly $35 billion within five years.

Civic Federation president Laurence Msall said the state must  act quickly.

Pages