Despite the political media’s focus on the various legislative battles taking place in state capitols all across the country, policy and legislative work are only one part of a state legislator’s job description. State legislators are also responsible for helping their constituents navigate the often-complicated world of government. In theory, good constituent service can inform citizens of government programs and ensure that elected officials regularly correspond with constituents.
Latest Politics & Government Reports
The state of Illinois finally ended its two-year budget impasse in July 2017 but continues to face a structural fiscal imbalance. We use comprehensive data supplied by the Illinois Comptroller to construct a time series showing Illinois state revenue and expenditures on a consistent basis since FY1998. We find that during this period Illinois’ expenditures have grown faster than its revenue and the state has had large budgetary gaps, with spending significantly exceeding sustainable revenue, since FY2000.
Governments in Illinois have been forced to spend tens of millions of dollars due to the loss of subsidies in a federal bond program, and could lose hundreds of millions more if the federal budget sequester remains in place, according to an analysis from the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
Research suggests that a solution to Illinois’ current fiscal crisis will require a "grand plan" with multiple revenue increases, multiple spending cuts, and multiple years of adjustment. Extraordinary budgeting mechanisms may be required to achieve political consensus on and implement such a plan. This article provides an overview of some public budget enforcement mechanisms designed to facilitate long-term fiscal stability in the U.S and around the world.
The state of Illinois has operated for many years with a structurally unbalanced budget in the sense that, under the policies in place at the time, government revenue generated by the tax system was insufficient to pay for government spending under current law. This new report from IGPA's Fiscal Futures Project says the state of Illinois can recover from its current fiscal problems, but only with a disciplined and sustain approach that considers many alternatives.
The Fiscal Futures Project, which began in 2008, is dedicated to informing the public and policymakers in Illinois about long-term budget issues. The Fiscal Futures Project has developed and refined two important tools over the last eight and one-half years.
New analysis by the Fiscal Futures Project finds that Illinois’ budget impasse has put spending on autopilot while revenue is down significantly. This perfect storm of decreased revenue and uncoordinated spending is causing uneven allocations and exacerbating an already massive budget deficit.
Illinois’ Jan. 14 sale of $480 million in general obligation bonds brought the state nearly $53 million less than it could have received had it been in better fiscal shape.
The analysis also indicates that this “financial condition penalty” could more than double in future years if the crisis continues. And when future capital needs are included, the estimated penalty could grow to more than $400 million per year, according to the study.
Interest politics, as opposed to party politics, make fixing Illinois’ budget problems very complex and difficult. All people and businesses have multiple and overlapping interests in what the state does. Thinking about broad and narrow interests helps understand them. Broad interests are those that many people hold weakly; for example, we all have an interest in a balanced state budget. Narrow interests are those that fewer people hold, but they often do so very strongly; for example, all teachers have an interest in higher pay for educators.
What are the political prospects of various plans to boost revenue or reduce spending? One way to answer is via opinion polls. Few say they support broad tax increases or spending cuts on education or Medicaid. Targeted taxes on the wealthy and reductions in benefits to state employees, by contrast, generate positive reactions. However, caution is always in order with polls. Some opinions seem open to change. For instance, support for raising taxes on the rich falls when people are told what rates they currently pay, on average.