>

The Fiscal Year in Review

A spend first mentality and the unwillingness to compromise from the Democrat majority in the House made presenting and passing a balanced budget agreement extremely difficult this legislative session. Yet, the renewed emphasis by Governor Rauner and House Republicans to advocate for the taxpayers, urging a bipartisan compromise for a responsibly funded budget—one the taxpayers deserve—ultimately succeeded when House Republicans defeated the Democrat supermajority’s $40 billion spending plan: a $7 billion underfunded budget that would have raised personal income tax levels over 55% to pay for the shortcomings.

The end of regular session in May brought the passage of this unbalanced budget, one that was largely vetoed by the Governor, setting the state up for a year of very public funding crises in every area from lottery winners to state universities. Stopgap budget plans for higher education and human services provided temporary funding, but were by no means solutions to the ever present fiscal problem.

At the close of the fiscal year, a stopgap budget agreement was secured which brought necessary funding for education, human services, and many of the state’s biggest needs. Senate Bill 2047 was passed and signed by Governor Rauner on June 30th, authorizing money to flow on July 1st, the first day of the new fiscal year.

With the passage of this budget plan, emergency funding focused on the biggest areas of state spending, including key areas and operations that lacked funding in FY16. Although the plan provided necessary funding, it is not a stable long-term fiscal plan and is not an annual, constitutional balanced budget. Rather, the stopgap FY17 budget was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly as a way of appropriating money to open Illinois K-12 educational institutions on time, provide a full year of funding for K-12 public schools, and keep operations going in other essential State buildings and points of infrastructure.

The budget question is expected to be reopened in the November-December 2016 fall veto session.