“Fiscal stability” is a phrase few would ever use to describe Illinois’ financial situation. And all indications point to the fiscal condition of Illinois remaining in a precarious state.
That’s nothing new. The state’s finances have been terrible for years, and the near future doesn’t look much better: The administration of new Gov. J.B. Pritzker released a report Feb. 8 that detailed an estimated budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year of $3.2 billion.
Pritzker laid the blame squarely on his predecessor, Bruce Rauner. It’s undeniable that the state’s fiscal problems got worse while Rauner was governor, but let’s not pretend the years before Rauner were times of great stability. Both political parties have been irresponsible for years. There hasn’t been a truly balanced budget for at least a decade and lawmakers routinely have spent more than the revenue they had to work with, or just ignored the problems, with the assumption some future legislature would deal with it.
The new governor’s administration said it will be honest and transparent about the challenges facing Illinois, and promised to put forward plans that will shore up the state’s finances. Pritzker has his first chance to demonstrate that on Wednesday, when he is scheduled to give his first budget address.
We aren’t expecting much good news out of the budget, and we hope Pritzker doesn’t try to sugarcoat it. He needs to present a truly balanced budget that includes no gimmicks.