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Illinois on pace to dig $6.2 billion deeper in debt this year

The State of Illinois is on pace to spend an additional $6.2 billion more than it receives in revenue this fiscal year alone if the state continues its current rate of spending without a budget.

The deficit projection is higher than originally projected because court orders and consent decrees are requiring spending at FY 15 levels or whatever is required to maintain existing service levels, regardless of the cost. Specifically, the state Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family services are on pace to exceed last year’s appropriations by $1.2 billion.

At the same time, Illinois is bringing in about $5 billion less in revenue annually primarily because of the sunset of the temporary income tax increase. When you put it together, it’s $6.2 billion more in debt for a state that already had a multi-billion bill backlog.

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.

A balanced budget is needed for the state to reclaim its controls over spending and revenue.