One Voice Illinois

News from the Illinois PTA Legislative Conference—The Illinois Budget

At the Illinois PTA 2016 Legislative Conference, one of the focus issues was the Illinois budget situation. Today is the 280th day without a budget in Illinois, and this lack of a budget is having profound effects on the lives of children, families, and our state’s economic future.

The “Do Nothing” Budget

Illinois currently has approximately $34.4 billion in obligated funding for the 2016 Fiscal Year (FY16) that runs from July 1, 2015 to June 20, 2016. These obligations include the K-12 funding, the one funding item that Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law last summer, as well as items that must be funded because of the law, federal consent decrees, or lawsuits brought against the state. In addition to $6.9 billion in K-12 education spending, these obligations include:

While these and other obligated state spending totals about $34.4 billion, state revenues are projected to only be about $32.1 billion for FY16, meaning that without a state budget in place, our “do nothing” budget approach is running a $2.3 billion deficit.

No Public Debate Budget Cuts

While our “do nothing” budget is still spending more than the state brings in, there are also “do nothing” budget cuts that have occurred without public debate because they have not been funded through budget bills, consent decrees, lawsuits, or federal funds that pass through the state coffers. The effect of these cuts will be long-lasting, as laid-off employees move on to other jobs in other states. Voices for Illinois Children has documented many of these cuts in a report. Among them are:

Education is an Investment

We often hear politicians say that education is an investment. That often simply means that children are our future, and spending money on them now won’t see returns until many years in the future. But education truly is an investment, and a very profitable one for Illinois at that.

Higher education levels mean for Illinois:

Walter W. McMahon, an emeritus professor of economics and of education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign calculated the return on investment (ROI) of education spending in Illinois in the Journal of Education Finance. His study looked only at the monetary costs and benefits of education spending in Illinois. He found the following return on investment:

Education spending in Illinois out-performed the stock market as an investment. In fact, Illinois education spending pays for itself every 2.3 years in state budget savings alone.

The Bottom Line

The Illinois PTA convention body passed a motion urging every Illinois PTA member to contact their legislator concerning the budget. You can use our new Voter Voice tool to locate your legislators and then use the compose message button to send an e-mail to the governor, your senator, and your representative at the same time. The key points you will want to make are: