12/01/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2023 12:12
GOMB projects State budget deficits in FY25 and following years. The "Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report," submitted in November 2023 by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), contains long-term projections covering spending and tax revenue trends faced by the State of Illinois. The GOMB projects continued compounding increases in the expenses faced by several key areas of State general-funds spending, particularly health care costs, pensions, and mandated education funding increases. The GOMB projects general funds budgeted spending, including pensions, rising from $48.3 billion in FY24 to almost $55.8 billion five years down the road in FY29. This is independent of further spending increases requested by all of the advocacy groups who push for more State funding every year.
House Republicans have warned that State spending has outpaced core revenue growth over recent years. Analyses show that the State has become increasingly reliant on one-time revenue sources to fund new and existing spending programs. The GOMB Five-Year projection reinforces this belief, showing that the projected structural State deficit will rise from $891 million in FY25 to $1,661 million in FY27. Furthermore, these deficit projections do not fully account for the possibility of an economic downturn during these years. A U.S. or global recession would further reduce State tax revenues and would further widen what is already a projected structural deficit.
To try to deal with these deficits, Illinois is building up its Budget Stabilization Fund, a special State fund often called a "rainy day fund" in news stories and accounts. The cash and cash-equivalent funds on deposit in the Budget Stabilization Fund have now reached more than $2 billion. Illinois' rainy day fund is credited by observers with helping pull the State back from the brink of below-investment-grade debt status. However, Illinois' current spending patterns mean that the Budget Stabilization Fund is only part of the answer to Springfield's long-term budget challenge. The GOMB report indicates that, based on Illinois' current (FY24) spending rates for budget items based on general funds, the $2 billion figure will cover less than 15 days of State spending on pensions and operating expenses.
First weekend of firearm deer harvest shows increase in deer taken. During the three-day period of November 17 through November 19, licensed hunters reported the taking of 53,348 deer to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). This was a 2% increase from the 52,354 deer reported during the comparable weekend in 2022. Although breechloading firearms are no longer the only way to take deer - increasing numbers of archery hunters also sit in Illinois deer stands - the standard firearm weekends remain the most intense time slots in the Illinois fall deer hunt.
A second breech-loading firearm season will open on November 30 and close on December 3. Nonstandard firearm hunting periods cover antlerless-only deer, localized chronic wasting disease deer, and the muzzleloading weekend of December 8 through December 10. Each specialized hunting period has its own rules, time periods, and localities. IDNR operates a website with updates on the remaining deer hunts and hunting periods of the 2023-24 deer hunting season.
Illinois State Police creates online form for reporting of public-sector corruption. Illinois has a long-standing history of public corruption. Four of Illinois' last eleven governors have served time in federal prison and numerous elected officials have been convicted or are awaiting trial for public corruption, including former House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
The Special Investigations Unit, a detection operation within the State Police, has posted an online citizen complaint form for the immediate reporting of criminal misconduct by elected officials and government employees. Examples of criminal misconduct include asking for or demanding an under-the-table payment or favor, either paid directly or transferred through a third party, and offering some sort of governmental service in response. Government employees include not only elected officials, but also people who were appointed by, or are answerable to, an elected official or public administrator.
The State Police form requires the reporting of the name and title of the person being reported, the county where the alleged incident took place, and a summary of the alleged incident. Although people who submit reports to the Special Investigations Unit do not have to include their names and physical addresses, it is required that they submit phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Investigators may contact those who submit complaints to gather information about the alleged incidents of public corruption.
Illinois celebrates the Christmas holiday season. The Illinois tourism department, "Enjoy Illinois," has put together a package of website pages to highlight the holiday season in Illinois. Hanukkah will begin on Thursday, December 7, and will continue until Friday, December 15. Kwanzaa, a celebration of African American culture, will begin on Boxing Day Tuesday, December 26, and will continue until New Year's Day, January 1.
Many Illinois communities have put together Christmas-themed displays and celebrations. Enjoy Illinois has put together itineraries and travel suggestions for the suburban Chicago area, Downstate Illinois, and the city of Chicago.