Next Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker will deliver his first-ever – and much anticipated – budget address.
Among the transition reports his new administration has released is one that delves into the perilous state of Illinois’ finances, and it lays much of the blame on former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “ideological warfare.”
“Illinois already had fiscal challenges to overcome, but the previous administration drove the state into a ditch,” the report states. “Rebuilding a strong financial foundation for Illinois will take more than one year, or even one gubernatorial term.”
The report also estimates a state budget deficit of $3.2 billion, nearly half a billion higher than the Rauner administration’s previous estimate.
“This enormous deficit … was compounded by the disastrous future financial ramifications of Governor Rauner’s approach,” the report states. “The missed opportunities are staggering; the investments in human capital that we have foregone are tragic.”
The deficit, of course, isn’t the only financial challenge facing Illinois. The report also outlines the state’s higher than expected backlog of unpaid bills, late payment fees and weakened administrative capabilities.
As for how Illinois can dig itself out, the administration also released a report on potential fixes to the state budget.
Among the proposals it floats are broadening its revenue base through potential new taxes on things like e-cigarettes, plastic bags and previously exempt services, and through legalizing marijuana and sports betting.
Pritzker’s administration is also looking at fixes for the state pension crisis, including consolidating the hundreds of public pension funds around the state.
Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the Illinois budget are two of Pritzker’s top fiscal lieutenants: Illinois Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, who also served as Illinois Comptroller from 1999 to 2011; and Illinois Department of Revenue Director David Harris, who served as a Republican state representative for 18 years.