At Issue: State Budget Still Way Out Of Whack, Watchdog Says

Craig Dellimore
April 20, 2018 - 5:43 pm
Springfield

Springfield, Illinois.

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- As Illinois lawmakers struggle to craft a budget agreement in an election year, the head of a fiscal watchdog group says state government is in even worse fiscal shape than it appears.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he presented the Illinois General Assembly with a balanced budget. 

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, disagrees.

He says Rauner is counting on $400 million in savings on retiree health benefits, and that's a problem.

First, Martire notes, the governor proposes that every year and has never gotten the unions to accept it. Second, the courts have said the benefits are protected under the Illinois Constitution.

Martire says proposed spending on elementary and higher education and social services are below what most people would accept. Elementary education, he says, is $7 billion short. Social services have been reduced by 22 percent, and higher education has been reduced by 51 percent since 2000, he said.

He acknowledges peoples’ eyes can glaze over when they hear about the Illinois state budget, but he said the numbers should scare people.

Martire is the guest on “At Issue,” which airs 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday.