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Illinois Checkbook Snaps Shut Today

July 1, 2008

Springfield, IL – The budget deadline has passed, and Illinois hasn't yet made it over the finish line. Today is the start of a new budget year, and there's still no budget in place because it's out of balance.

There's also disagreement about just how deep the state's budget hole is, with estimates of the deficit ranging from one billion to five billion dollars. Ralph Martire with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability says budget cut numbers are being batted around like a game – a game where no one wins.

"They're not just numbers, they're impacts on people's lives. So, to the extent that you can't fund a program that takes care of developmentally-disabled adults any more, who's hurt?"

Martire says borrowing to make minimum payments on debt isn't the way to get the state back on track. He says the state is already years behind on investing in higher education and basic infrastructure repairs, and it's time to look at restructuring income and sales taxes.

"Let's do something on the revenue side of the ledger that would actually raise the money we need to make these investments, while making us economically competitive."

Martire says he expects more borrowing to make it possible to cobble a budget together in the coming weeks, which he says means even more debt next year. The Governor has said one option is to borrow money from special funds and issue bonds to make ends meet.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IL