Mendoza: People save for emergencies, so should state government

Thursday, August 12, 2021


SPRINGFIELD – Illinois families do their best to save money for potential future emergencies – a leaky roof, job loss, unexpected medical bills. Not spending every penny they take in helps people prepare for the unexpected.

But did you know the State of Illinois only has enough money in its savings to cover about 30 minutes of government operations in the event of an emergency. 

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is putting forth a plan to strengthen the state’s rainy day fund, which will help Illinois have more financial stability and better position it to weather difficult times.

“Illinois is one of just a few states with no sizable amount of money in its rainy day fund,” Mendoza said. “We’ve worked hard to manage back-to-back fiscal crises in Illinois – the two-year budget impasse and the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no question our state must do a better job of planning for future emergencies. It’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

The proposal, contained in House Bill 4118 and sponsored by State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, calls for triggering automatic monthly transfers into the Budget Stabilization Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund when the state’s bill backlog is less than $3 billion (the point at which the state is paying bills within a 30-day cycle, which is customary in business).

“Illinoisans understand it’s in their best financial interest to put at least a little money into their savings every chance they get so they can be prepared for unexpected expenses. State government should be no different,” Halpin said.

“Across the country this past year and a half, we’ve seen how quickly events can destabilize state finances. It’s time for Illinois to take advantage of our recent financial momentum and begin to prepare for future rainy days.”

Illinois’ Budget Stabilization Fund, or rainy day fund, currently has a balance of about $9.3 million. In February 2020, it contained $60,000 – enough money to pay for a mere 30 seconds’ worth of state operating expenses. The fund’s balance can be found on the Illinois Comptroller’s website by following this link and searching for Budget Stabilization Fund (0686).

Families are encouraged to stop by the Comptroller’s Office tent at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, which runs Aug. 12-22, and learn more about Comptroller Mendoza’s efforts to shore up state finances, which helped win the state two credit upgrades for the first time in 20 years. The Comptroller’s tent can be found on Grandstand Avenue across from the main entrance to the Grandstand.

The office will also host a tent at the Du Quoin State Fair in southern Illinois Aug. 27-Sept. 6. The Comptroller’s tent will be located on Grandstand Avenue just north of the main entrance to the Grandstand.

Bankrate’s July 2021 Emergency Savings Survey showed that 25% of Americans have no money set aside for an emergency.