Latest Reports

Latest Fiscal and Economic Policy Reports

November 29, 2016

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. 

July 26, 2016

This policy brief provides an overview of research on climate change and air pollution, and it discusses the implications for Illinois. The researchers first describe the effects of pollution and then look at trends in Illinois relative to the whole United States. They then describe estimates of the effects of climate change on local pollution, and the effects of pollution on health.

February 15, 2016

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. 

January 16, 2016

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.

November 17, 2014

The 2014 mid-term election that put Republicans in control of Congress reduced any chance of federal legislative action to limit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from electric power plants. However, the executive branch already has authority from the U.S. Supreme Court to limit emissions under the Clean Air Act. In June 2014, the Obama Administration issued its proposed Clean Power Plan, which sets a specific limit on emissions for each state and then allows each state to decide how to meet its target.

April 14, 2014

This paper explains the benefit of taking a holistic approach to evaluating fiscal reforms. Different state taxes can interact in complicated ways, making the pros and cons of altering any one of them difficult to evaluate without considering all of them simultaneously. The discussion pertains primarily to tax policy, but the same point applies to government expenditures as well. Holistic analysis is valuable but extremely difficult, and so most analyses focus on one change at a time. To explain the holistic approach, examples are drawn from two particular areas.

April 14, 2014

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.

March 25, 2014

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.

February 20, 2014

This is Chapter 3 of The Illinois Report 2014.

June 18, 2013

The following analysis demonstrates that:

  • Savings to the state from SB2404 are around $0.5 billion to $1.5 billion per year, depending on how participants respond to incentives to accept reduced pension bene ts in order to keep health care coverage in retirement.
  • SB1 (assuming it survives a constitutional challenge) saves the state around $2 billion to $3 billion per year.
  • Neither are suf cient to eliminate the state’s budget de cit, which is projected to grow from $2 billion to $11 billion over the next ten years.