* 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.
* 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