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."
Rick Winkel served in the legislature from 1995 to 2003. Now he is Director of the Office of Public Leadership at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
He wrote a recent op-ed that criticizes how budgeting is done. He said more transparency is needed, including data that is easier for people outside of government to understand.
"When that data is available and provided openly, understandably so it's concise and legible and put in a format that's consistent," he said. "Opening up the process before decisions are made and afterward."
House Speaker Michael Madigan pulled his plan for a so-called "millionaire tax" last week. The plan would have raised taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, with the proceeds going to schools. It would have required a constitutional change.
Professor Brian Gaines has studied the idea. He's with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. He called Madigan's change of heart a bit surprising:
Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges. Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services.
But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning. Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed. She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:
Better fiscal planning tools could improve Illinois’ budget process
When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts. It's easy to understand. it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.
WUIS' Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox.
Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.
Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge. But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem. That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.