SPRINGFIELD -- The state of Illinois faces a potential budget deficit of $3.2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, far more than former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration projected late last year.
That's the conclusion of a report issued Friday, Feb. 8, by newly-elected Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration, who used the findings to continue chastising the man Pritzker defeated in the 2018 election.
The 12-page document, entitled "Digging Out: The Rauner Wreckage Report," was issued by Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, a former state comptroller who oversees budget and economic issues for the administration. It lays the blame for most of the state's fiscal mess on the two-year budget impasse from 2015 to 2017 that resulted in a series of credit downgrades for the state.
"The choice by the Rauner administration to wage ideological warfare took a severe toll on our state: plunging us deeper into debt and causing severe damage to our social safety net and higher education," the report stated. "The Rauner years will have ripple effects for a generation to come on those who suffered direct harm, including taxpayers. Illinois already had fiscal challenges to overcome, but the previous administration drove the state into a ditch."
In addition to the budget deficit, the report identifies $15 billion in costs associated with the continuing backlog of unpaid bills. Those include $7.9 billion in actual bills, plus $5.5 billion in debt the state took on to pay down what had been an even larger backlog; $650 million for money borrowed from other state funds; and $500 million in estimated back pay for state employees.
Noticeably absent from the report is any detail about how the Pritzker administration plans to address the shortfall. That, presumably, will come when the governor delivers his budget address to the legislature on Feb. 20.