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 an All-Funds budget for the state of Illinois. Historical budget data for over 700 state funds—not just the 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 (REAL). 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; and simulate the impact on future budgets of proposed policies and legislation, or different assumptions about economic trends.


Recovering from a COVID (Spending) Fever

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When the state of Illinois’ 2022 fiscal year ended on June 30, 2022, the state and the nation had endured more than 27 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a plethora of health, societal, and economic challenges, Illinois emerged from this period in its strongest fiscal position in more than two decades. This fortuitous result was in part due to the exceptional generosity of federal aid but also was attributable to surges in economic activity and own source tax revenue. State spending also rose but much more slowly than revenue. The net result was the first substantially positive fiscal balance since 1998. While this good news may be cause to celebrate, we caution that Illinois’ fiscal situation remains tenuous and is likely to require diligence and restraint to remain healthy in the coming years.



Department of Economics


David F. Merriman is a co-lead of IGPA’s Fiscal and Economic Policy Working Group and is the James J. Stukel Presidential Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Fiscal Futures Project

The Fiscal Futures Project is dedicated to informing the public and policymakers about state budget...
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