Fiscal Futures Project

Fiscal Futures Project

The Fiscal Futures Project is dedicated to informing the public and policymakers about state budget transparency and long-term budget concerns.

The Fiscal Futures Project began in 2008 out of concern that the state of Illinois lacked sufficient capacity to project its fiscal demands and revenue streams into the future. A longer term perspective is needed because of: the structural deficit: state expenditures have been growing faster than revenues; the serious consequences of making policy choices while ignoring the impact on the budget in future year; the relentless pressure on future budgets from an aging population and continuing increases in the cost of health care.

The All-Funds Budget and the Fiscal Futures Model

The project team has created and annually updates a All-Funds budget for the state of Illinois. Historical budget data for over 700 state funds—not just the four General Funds—is grouped into a meaningful set of revenue and spending categories, consistently measured over time. Compared to the more commonly reported General Funds budget, the All-Funds budget is more inclusive and brings important categories of spending like transportation into the analysis. The All-Funds budget is more transparent because inter-fund transfers or moving a program from a General Fund in one year to a special fund in the next will not conceal what is really going on. 

The project team has created and maintains a long-term budget projection model for the state of Illinois. Projections of economic and demographic variables are supplied by the Regional Economics Application Laboratory. The Fiscal Futures Model estimates the past relationship between each All-Funds budget category and the related economic and demographic variables in order to make projections for each component and for total revenue and spending. 

With the All-Funds budget and the budget projection model the Fiscal Futures Project is able to: provide a new level of budget coverage and transparency previously not seen in Illinois; provide legislators, public policy makers and the public with a picture of the future budget situation; stimulate the impact on future budgets of proposed policies and legislation, or different assumptions about economic trends. 

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Lead Experts

Professor Emeritus

Expertise: Economic Policy

Richard F. Dye is Co-Director of IGPA's Fiscal Futures Project, which analyzes Illinois state budgets using a consistently defined measure of state spending, sustainable revenue flows, and a model that projects spending and revenues into future years. Dye's research and public service activities focus on state and local government finance in general and state budget policy, property tax caps, and tax increment financing in particular.

Expertise: Economic Policy

David F. Merriman's major area of study is state and local public finance. Merriman co-directs The Fiscal Futures Project, which created and maintains of a comprehensive and consistently defined measure of the Illinois state budget.  He has published extensively about the effect of tax increment finance policy on local economic growth and the determinants of tobacco tax avoidance. He has also studied Walmart’s impact on urban economic development. His most recent research concerns state and local business taxation.

Affiliated Experts

Assistant Professor

Expertise: Economic Policy

Joshua Drucker is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests center around processes of regional economic development and transformation. Recent projects include examining the role of industrial competition within regional economies, analyzing the contributions of anchor institutions to economic performance and resilience, and investigating innovation districts as an urban economic development strategy. Drucker has worked as an economic development consultant and researcher for the Technology Partnership Practice of the Battelle Memorial Institute, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Southern Growth Policies Board.

Assistant Professor

Expertise: Economic Policy

Richard Funderburg is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield. Funderburg’s research centers on the ability and limitations of state and local economic development policy to entice private businesses to locate, start up, or expand within the region and the fiscal and budget consequences of public efforts. Funderburg’s research appears in several regional science and planning journals including the Journal of Regional Science, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Transportation Research A, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Growth and Change, and Land Use Policy. Prior to his doctoral studies, Rick worked 10 years for the California Employment Development Department where he developed state plans, forecasts, budgets, legislation, and regulations pursuant to workforce investment, vocational education, and welfare-to-work programs.

Professor and Faculty Fellow, Great Cities Institute

Expertise: Economic Policy

Rachel Weber is a professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducts research in economic development, real estate, and public finance. She has expertise in the areas of urban and regional economic development, public finance, municipal government law, planning theory, andreal estate. She has conducted extensive research on the impact of changes in capital markets on urban economies and the built environment. She has also written on school and infrastructure finance, the effect of e-commerce on bricks-and-mortar retailers, the design of incentive contracts, and participatory budgeting. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning and author of From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Weber was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force and was a member of the Urban Policy Advisory Committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.