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From the Department of the Completely Obvious

Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014

* Press release…

Illinois is among the eight worst states in the country in long-term budget planning, according to a major new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Illinois, a state with chronic budget problems, should adopt a set of proven fiscal planning tools that that could help it weather difficult economic times, build an attractive business climate, and make government more effective and efficient, the report finds.

The report examines whether and how well states use ten key fiscal planning tools that fall into three broad categories:

A map for the future: the budget and accompanying documents should include a detailed roadmap of the budget’s immediate and future impacts on the state’s fiscal health.

    Professional and credible estimates: standards and sufficient oversight are needed to guarantee that these analyses of the budget’s impacts are professional, credible, and prepared without political influence.
    Ways to stay on course: mechanisms should be in place to trigger any needed changes during the budget year, before too much damage is done.

Fiscal planning tools not used at all in Illinois include independent consensus revenue estimates for the coming fiscal year, current services baseline budgets, five-year revenue and spending projections, and a well-designed rainy day fund.

The study is here.

…Adding… The governor’s office points out that Gov. Quinn will be doing some long-term planning when he rolls out his five-year budget blueprint in March. Good point.

Also, the governor’s office clarified something last night via text and I didn’t see it until just a few minutes ago. The budget address has been delayed 8 times since Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration, not 13 as claimed yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - A guy... - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    When you’re in a perpetual state of drowning, it’s hard to master the “butterfly” stroke. We’re a few steps away from long term budgeting. First step would be to stop governing from crisis to crisis.

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    That’s all well-and-good.

    But I’ve yet to see anyone make a connection between a state budget and the economy.

    Nebraska and Wyoming are the top of the “good” list here. So what? They’re economies are a fraction of Illinois’.

  3. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    wait i thought we already had a rainy day fund that starts with P and ryhmes with T and sounds like tension…

  4. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    ==Professional and credible estimates: standards and sufficient oversight are needed to guarantee that these analyses of the budget’s impacts are professional, credible, and prepared without political influence.==

    Sure, but then how would you get it to balance?

  5. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Enough of what they claim about Illinois’ budget process I know to be false, to make me think we just didn’t bother to answer their questions, and they took the word of some poorly-informed outside group.

    Not to say we shouldn’t get better on long-term planning, and we are.

  6. - Weltschmerz - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    “You don’t have trouble taking a reservation. You have trouble keeping a reservation.” Seinfeld.

    Why bother making a budget or passing a law if you’re not going to observe them?

  7. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    === Enough of what they claim about Illinois’ budget process I know to be false, to make me think we just didn’t bother to answer their questions, and they took the word of some poorly-informed outside group. ===

    Please explain what you believe to be false.

  8. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:37 pm:


    What the politicians do with the budget is one thing, but I can tell you that the folks that work behind the scenes on the budget are professionals.

  9. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    I’m not a big believer in projections that go five years out. They aren’t all that useful to me.

  10. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    === I can tell you that the folks that work behind the scenes on the budget are professionals. ===

    Demoralized, agree for the most part. As in most of things in life, there are always exceptions.

  11. - Geneva Guy - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    “But I’ve yet to see anyone make a connection between a state budget and the economy.”

    Budgeting is a look-forward-thing whereas speciously cherry-picking Nebraska and comparing their economy with ours is a looking-back, red herring type thing. In the abstract, is it illogical to assume that years of poor state budgeting jeopardizes future state economic stability? Does years of poor budgeting not correlate with greater risks of emergent legislative activity and its aftermath (e.g. higher taxes, program cuts, job losses, aggressive state-initiated termination of contracts, increased litigation)? Don’t these measures impact a larger percentages of taxpayers, non-taxpayers and businesses at some point? And haven’t we felt that impact a little bit already? Finally, shouldn’t our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, be encouraged to exercise additional foresight on our behalves, given their collective track records?

    Sorry, that is, admittedly, a lot of rhetorical questions.

  12. - Empty Suit - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 7:09 pm:

    So you wait five years to present a five year program and you need to wait til after a primary to do it? Any good manager would have done it the first year or proposed it when he was second in command.

  13. - Drive By - Wednesday, Feb 5, 14 @ 4:29 am:

    short term forecasts; long term forecasts; income & out-go … Illinois can’t seem to get the numbers close to reality.

    maybe if Illinois had some sort of constitutional requirement to balance the budget *factually* …

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