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The hollowing out of state government

Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019

* Ralph Martire

Still, don’t significant spending cuts have to be part of any comprehensive plan to resolve structural fiscal issues? Generally speaking, yes. But the truth is, Illinois has been disinvesting in core services for decades. Pritzker’s first General Fund budget calls for $27.1 billion in total spending on current services, over 96 percent of which will go to education, health care, social services and public safety. After adjusting for inflation, that’s $4.5 billion, or 14.4 percent less than what actual General Fund spending was two decades ago in fiscal year 2000, under Republican Gov. George Ryan.

The consequences of this long-term disinvestment vary by service area. Here’s one example: General Fund spending on higher education this year will be 48.75 percent less in real terms than in 2000. That cut is so significant it’s helped push the rate of growth for public tuition in Illinois over this time period past the national average by some 53 percentage points. So it should be no surprise many of our high school grads are leaving Illinois for college.

And that’s just one consequence. Real spending is also down from fiscal year 2000 levels on human services by 22.6 percent; health care by 13.9 percent; and public safety by 16.8 percent. Real spending on K-12 funding is scheduled to be $651 million higher in the current fiscal year than at the dawn of this century. That’s the good news. The bad news is overall, K-12 funding in Illinois is some still $7.3 billion less than what the evidence indicates is needed to have an adequate public education system.

Fiscal Year 2000 was our high water mark. Then came higher mandated pension costs, two world-wide recessions and the refusal by governors to raise taxes when more revenue was desperately needed.

* Related…

* Illinois’ new budget is ‘most balanced’ in decades, Senate Minority Leader says

* How much money are Illinois colleges getting in the new budget? ‘It’s definitely good news for colleges and universities.’

* Illinois Medicaid managed care reform package breeds optimism

- Posted by Rich Miller        

37 Comments
  1. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    ==Fiscal Year 2000 was our high water mark.==

    It’s Never Not Funny to me that the high water mark came under the third-in-a-row Republican Governor and that we’ve been in a steady retreat since then, despite Democratic Governors for 12/18 years.


  2. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    “And while raising the revenue needed to fund services and pay past due bills may seem like common sense, it’s anything but common practice politically. The reason for this is the voting public’s traditional schizophrenia about fiscal policy. On the one hand, folks want and demand public services. On the other, they oppose raising the tax revenue needed to fund them.” THIS Ralph is so spot on. the public needs to be educated that services cost money.


  3. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    ==$27.1 billion in total spending on current services…that’s $4.5 billion, or 14.4 percent less than what actual General Fund spending was two decades ago in fiscal year 2000==

    Fantastic. Now let’s see how much we spent on past services in 2000 and compare.

    Searched the SJ-R article for the word “pension” but came up empty. Just because you threw a blanket over the elephant doesn’t mean he’s not still there in the room.


  4. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:35 pm:

    Yet, we still manage to have almost 7000 different taxing bodies in the state. What we lose in depth, we more than make up for in breadth.


  5. - Shemp - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    I would also argue the State has created more work and burdensome oversight for itself than is necessary, thus straining its employees. The review and permitting processes are cumbersome at best and over the top. IDOT seemingly won’t let a dime go without reviews from the district and central. Locals aren’t trusted to let road projects that involve any State funds. You can’t build a regional detention basin without a review that takes a year to get through IDNR. It takes 6 IDOT engineers to review a Phase 1 engineering design for a bike path. But as I was told recently by an elected, “that’s Illinois and you’re not going to change it.”


  6. - Try-4-Truth - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    ===== Yet, we still manage to have almost 7000 different taxing bodies in the state. What we lose in depth, we more than make up for in breadth. ====

    Anyone want to point out the error in this statement?


  7. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    I’m with the sentiments of Stuntman Bob’s Brother. witness townships. crazy fiscal management and unnecessary government affects everyone, even if just by making people cynical. a statewide effort to eliminate townships would not only streamline things, it would help with the attitude of the public.


  8. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    Since the public may want government services but not be taxed more for them, the graduated income tax appears to be the best remedy. Agree that it should be sold as taxing the rich more (popular) and saving social services that are liked by many.

    We just had brutal de facto spending cuts because of Rauner’s budget crisis. It’s not humane to cut much more, nor as necessary if we do the right thing and vote for the graduated income tax.


  9. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    === witness townships. crazy fiscal management and unnecessary government affects everyone, even if just by making people cynical.===

    Totally wrong from my small county point of view. The townships are way more fiscally sound than my home county. They are much more responsive to the needs of the citizenry. The county is a complete mess, broke and broken. The last thing on Earth that I would recommend is putting the county in charge of anything, nevertheless well-run townships. All you would be doing is consolidating centralized incompetence with the small, dispersed patches of competence that exist in government. Who do you think would end up winning that battle? Incompetence.


  10. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    =Just because you threw a blanket over the elephant doesn’t mean he’s not still there in the room.=

    The elephant in the room isn’t “pensions” its revenue. To the extent we have a pension problem it’s because our revenue base hasn’t kept pace with our obligations including pensions. Imagine what would happen if you went over a decade without a raise.


  11. - Left Leaner - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    ==The public needs to be educated that services cost money.==

    Agreed. But we, historically speaking, are poor at this, even when at our best. I mean, if we haven’t learned by now, then…ummm.

    Tie more taxes, fees and expenses to formulas utilizing the CPI. Then, costs for services increase more steadily at the rate of inflation (what they actually cost) instead of the whims of elected people/the public.

    Case in point: the gas tax.

    It’s not a solve-all solution, but a start for actually (and more reasonably) paying for the services we expect/demand.


  12. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    the edgar county boys are listing township after township….including upstate…with problems. it is a unit of government not nearly apparent to the average person.


  13. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    =Searched the SJ-R article for the word “pension” but came up empty. Just because you threw a blanket over the elephant doesn’t mean he’s not still there in the room.=

    I Googled “Illinois underfunding of pensions” and came up with 296,000 results.

    Maybe start there?

    The debt created, not the pensions, is the problem. Underfunding of other services and infrastructure like higher education may not have a direct compounding effect, but the pensions did and now the bill is due.

    Illinois tax burden might be higher than Mississippi or Indiana, and most people do not seem to care because they like what Illinois has to offer. If you do care, then you have a choice to make.

    Martire is right and has been for the better part of two decades, finally people are starting to listen to him and more people are ignoring the IPI.

    Progress.


  14. - Scamp640 - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    The Chronicle of Higher Education recently echoed this point that disinvestment or hollowing out of state programs like social services and higher education has significant negative consequence:

    https://www.chronicle.com/article/These-Cuts-Have-Real/246516?cid=wcontentlist_hp_latest


  15. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    “What we lose in depth, we more than make up for in breadth.”
    “Locals aren’t trusted to let road projects that involve any State funds.”

    Ok, which is it? You two are arguing the same point from opposite ends.


  16. - Nonbeliever - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 1:58 pm:

    Interesting that our public university Presidents do very little to advertise what has happened.

    At best they make very meek little sounds to the IBHE and that quietly go away knowing that their salaries will not be neglected.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    ===Interesting that our public university Presidents do very little to advertise what has happened.===

    … and yet, there are quotes and interviews, like ones with the Chancellor of UIUC describing what had happened, including how Rauner exacerbated the situation. The Goggle is your friend.

    ===At best they make very meek little sounds to the IBHE and that quietly go away knowing that their salaries will not be neglected.===

    Maybe you should’ve become a university chancellor? Yes? No? No.

    Cynical views based on a bias of another’s position or better circumstances is quite a shallow point of view.

    But please, make it about the heads of the universities and the monies that they make… that you don’t.


  18. - Nonbeliever - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    According the data cited below Medicaid has increased from $10.6 in 2000 to over $23 billion in 2019. (this does include both federal and state dollars)

    Interesting that the media almost solely concentrates on Pensions when mentioning the ‘fiscal crisis.’

    https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2014/12/state-spending-on-medicaid/shcsmedicaidfactsheetillinois.pdf?la=en&hash=B5B13DAB117C8CD712FC36F6FDB8881700566CE4

    Medicaid spending and growth, inflation-adjusted, 2000-12
    Total Medicaid spending, 2000 (in billions) $10.6 $263.7
    Total Medicaid spending, 2012 (in billions) $14.0 $429.2

    https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/FY_20_Budget_Overview.pdf

    Total By Program Appropriation Request $ Change
    Medical Assistance $23,680.0


  19. - Nonbeliever - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    @Oswego Willy

    Your exception does not prove the rule. But if you want to believe that the university presidents have taken an active role in fighting for state dollars you just go right ahead and believe that.


  20. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    ==The elephant in the room isn’t “pensions” its revenue.==

    No, revenue is the vampire waiting to be invited inside.

    ==I Googled “Illinois underfunding of pensions” and came up with 296,000 results.==

    Didn’t turn up that article though.

    Maybe you and I can travel back to the year 2000 in a souped-up Mitsubishi Eclipse and redirect $500 million of higher ed funding into the pension fund where it should’ve gone in the first place. The trick will be to get back to present time before all the professors and admins find out their salaries are frozen for the year to make up for the funding shortage. I’ll even let you pick out the tunes. Maybe some 3 Doors Down?


  21. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:12 pm:

    ===Your exception does not prove the rule. But if you want to believe that the university presidents have taken an active role in fighting for state dollars you just go right ahead and believe that.===

    … or I can look at yearly testimony to GA committees where they’re not saying…

    “We’re good, this isn’t hurting us”

    … or to the IBHE… complaining how they’re on the brink.

    But please, tell me it’s about the complacency, no one raising alarms amongst the chancellors and how envious you are if their salaries.

    The universities are constantly with hat in hand.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    ===Maybe you and I can travel back to the year 2000 in a souped-up Mitsubishi Eclipse and redirect $500 million of higher ed funding into the pension fund where it should’ve gone in the first place. The trick will be to get back to present time before all the professors and admins find out their salaries are frozen for the year to make up for the funding shortage.===

    Narrator: it wasn’t the professors or the administrators not paying into their pensions

    Man, - City Zen -, teachers, unions, pensions, same ole with ya


  23. - Nonbeliever - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    @Oswego Willy.

    There is a big difference between going to IBHE and GA committee meetings and stating your case vs. really going out and battle for funding. Going to TV stations, statewide newspapers and putting your position out there with you as the President being a driving force. One is pro forma lip service and the other is real leadership.


  24. - Scamp640 - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:36 pm:

    @ Nonbeliever. I am not sure how much more EIU President Glassman or WIU President Thomas could have done to increase support for higher education in their respective regions. In the case of WIU, the local state representative repeatedly voted against funding for WIU during the state budget impasse. In 2018, the local business elite supported and even campaigned for Rauner and Rep. Hammond despite the damage they did to Macomb. Furthermore, the local business elite in Macomb thinks that simply getting rid of WIU President Thomas is going to make things better. They are in a state of denial that their votes for Rauner hurt WIU and consequently their businesses.

    After the damage Rauner did to higher education in this state, the state needs to step in to promote Illinois higher education. One suggestion might be to have the IBHE collaborate with all of the universities in Illinois to undertake a statewide and even Midwest-wide media campaign touting Illinois universities. Just my two cents.


  25. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Why is it always an either or scenario for you City Zen. Paying pensions have to mean lower salaries in your world. That’s another horse you keep beating.


  26. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    ==But if you want to believe that the university presidents have taken an active role in fighting for state dollars ==

    Where were you during all of the appropriation hearings?


  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    ===There is a big difference between going to IBHE and GA committee meetings and stating your case vs. really going out and battle for funding. Going to TV stations, statewide newspapers and putting your position out there with you as the President being a driving force. One is pro forma lip service and the other is real leadership.===

    Don’t be “that person”, LOL

    They complained constantly, local news in Charleston did a whole story how EIU couldn’t even mow their quad.

    “I object.”

    “Overruled.”

    “No no, I stenuously object.”

    Is that how this works, lol

    Your beef is that they didn’t do enough … PR?

    It was the governor’s office *wanting* to close universities and Raunerite GA members voting against their districts that exacerbated this, and your concern is based on the jealousy of how much these university presidents made and how you think they shoulda fought the past governor?

    Yikes.

    You learned nothing those four years.


  28. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    =The trick will be to get back to present time before all the professors and admins find out their salaries are frozen for the year to make up for the funding shortage. I’ll even let you pick out the tunes. Maybe some 3 Doors Down?=

    I would take that trip with you, I think it would be fun.

    Music? most likely still 80’s and 90’s alternative/new wave stuff for me.

    You think salaries would be frozen, but those salaries still rose during the funding crisis so evidence wouldn’t support your conclusion.

    Maybe is the ultra minority of anti-tax nitwits didn’t cow weak politicians we would have been paying the right amount all along.

    At least that is what I would have fixed with my time machine. That and I would have kept Chrysler from introducing the PT Cruiser.


  29. - Been There - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    ===Fiscal Year 2000 was our high water mark====
    Hmmm. That’s the year I started going to Springfield on a regular basis.


  30. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 4:23 pm:

    ==Why is it always an either or scenario for you City Zen. Paying pensions have to mean lower salaries in your world.==

    Probability. The same problem of funding all higher ed presents itself year after year and has one of three resolutions: Raise taxes, raise the price (tuition), lower the costs (staff compensation). Two choices arguably keep the status quo for employees, one does not. You could mix any of these three, but for this example, let’s keep it simple as these three possible outcomes or 3 marbles: 2 green, 1 red.

    Year after year, decade after decade, 3 marbles to blindly pick out of a hat. What is the probability of digging into that hat 20 times and not once pulling out one red marble? Very small, to say the least.

    And that’s the point. Is it always about salaries? Of course not. I bring this up because no one else does. But it is definitely one outcome. And I only have to be right once out of 20 tries to impact everything that comes after.

    ==same ole with ya==

    Spinning the “Macarena” record over and over will not change my opinion of the song.


  31. - Bavette - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    Grandson of Man, I don’t know a single person that sits around saying they want more state government services.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 4:37 pm:

    ===decade after decade===

    … and here is where your utter ridiculousness continues to haunt what is left of you credibility,”.

    ===Spinning the “Macarena” record over and over will not change my opinion of the song.===

    You’re a One Note Johnny

    I can’t expect you to understand a whole song.


  33. - MyTwoCents - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 5:22 pm:

    Arsenal, I gotta say, it certainly was easier for Walker, Thompson, Edgar, Ryan and Blagojevich to fund government services when they weren’t adequately funding the pensions. I acknowledge Edgar attempted to solve the issue with the ramp but it’s still a ramp and that led to massive underfunding during his tenure. If all those governors weren’t shorting the pension systems either 1) FY00 wouldn’t have been the high water mark or 2) the income tax would have been higher than 3%. So don’t go around gloating about how GOP governors funded services while not acknowledging the other part of the story.


  34. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 5:27 pm:

    == I don’t know a single person that sits around saying they want more state government services. ==

    No, they just say somebody ought to fix this .. or that .. or whatever the outrage of the moment is.


  35. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 5:30 pm:

    == gloating about how GOP governors … ==

    Blame on both sides. Walker and Blago were Democrats.


  36. - Soccertease - Wednesday, Jun 19, 19 @ 8:52 pm:

    General Fund spending comparisons can be tricky, Blago raised special fund fees considerably then swept these “excess” fees into the GRF. Universities generally didn’t reduce salaries; they paid GRF shortfall funding to universities with locally-held university funds.


  37. - lost in the weeds - Thursday, Jun 20, 19 @ 8:30 am:

    Lewis Black states that the number one complaint from his audience is potholes on the roads. When was the gas tax last raised? The disconnect about fiscal reality is high in the populace.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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