‘Illinois’ weak economic foundations and fiscal mismanagement were preexisting conditions that caused it to suffer a deeper COVID-19 downturn. They will also hurt its recovery.’
As Illinois enters 2021, the state’s economy is smaller, the COVID -19 recovery has stalled and the state’s Office of Management and Budget is projecting a budget deficit of $3.9 billion for the current fiscal year that could grow $1 billion worse.
While it is easy for state politicians to blame Illinois’ fiscal struggles on the global pandemic, Illinois’ economy has persistently underperformed the rest of the country for the past two decades. That left the state with tiny reserves, massive debts and a near-junk credit rating even before the pandemic.
Two decades of rising pension and debt service costs left Illinois with fewer and less reliable public services. Spending on child protection, mental health, state police and college aid for low-income students fell by 32%. Even state general assistance was eliminated in 2011 while state politicians approved a record income tax hike that same year.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.