2018 Year in Review for the Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability Blog

December 10, 2018

The following are the five most read blog posts presented by the Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability in 2018 in chronological order. These posts discuss issues ranging from capital funding to pension obligation bonds.

How Will Illinois Fund Its Infrastructure Needs?
January 26, 2018

With some leaders and advocates demanding renewed attention to how the State funds transportation and other infrastructure, this blog post examined the possibilities for a State capital plan. As detailed in the post, Illinois has not had a major capital plan since 2009 and infrastructure across the State is in dire need of investment.

In the State of Illinois FY2019 Budget Roadmap that followed in February 2018, the Institute stressed the need for a capital improvement plan that comprehensively assesses and prioritizes the State’s infrastructure needs and draws from a reliable and long-term funding source.

Measuring the Impact of a Graduated Income Tax in Illinois
March 9, 2018

As the issue of a graduated income tax was discussed during the Illinois gubernatorial election, this blog post offered rough sketches of what a number of graduated tax structures could look like in Illinois. The Civic Federation has cautioned the State that if it considers implementing a graduated income tax via a constitutional amendment, the highest marginal rate should be no more than three percentage points greater than the lowest rate.

A subsequent blog post outlined what the same graduated tax structures could look like if Illinois also implemented the Civic Federation’s longstanding proposal to tax retirement income.

Illinois Finance 101: Paying Interest Penalties
April 6, 2018

Early in 2018, the Illinois Comptroller’s Office began providing the first detailed public information about interest penalties owed on the State’s mountain of overdue bills in monthly reports. This blog post explained Illinois’ bill payment process and offered perspective on the amount of late-payment interest owed by the State.

Illinois Passes Budget on Time; Fiscal Challenges Remain
June 8, 2018

After three years of political gridlock and missed deadlines, the Illinois General Assembly passed a budget for fiscal year 2019 on the last day of its regular spring session. Governor Bruce Rauner promptly signed the budget amid bipartisan celebration. This blog post offered a preliminary analysis of the $38.5 billion budget, raising concerns about whether the revenue and spending estimates were realistic, especially assumed savings from a new pension buyout plan that was not vetted in public hearings and the inclusion of proceeds from selling the Thompson Center in Chicago for the third year in a row.

Subsequent blog posts examined the FY2019 enacted budget’s impact on local governments, capital appropriations in the budget, the aforementioned pension buyout plans and the ultimate projection in November 2018 that the State would end FY2019 with a $1 billion deficit.

Pension Bonds: Lessons from the State of Illinois
August 31, 2018

With governments in Illinois facing steep increases in yearly pension contributions, new plans were being floated to borrow billions of dollars to stabilize ailing pension funds and relieve budgetary pressures. This blog post examined the State of Illinois’ $10 billion pension obligation bond (POB) sale in 2003—still a record amount for any POB issue, according to Bloomberg—as a cautionary tale.