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Creating a New Vision for Illinois’ Budget

On January 15, 2016 at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Health & Medicine hosted a meeting of the Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy focused on Creating a New Vision for Illinois’ Budget. Video of the Forum panels is available below courtesy of CANTV. Health & Medicine has also put together forum proceedings notes as a reference guide for the forum’s content.

In the face of the ongoing budget crisis, this forum explored what a reasonable Illinois budget would look like: How much revenue is needed, how that revenue should be raised, and how much the state should serve on critical services, especially healthcare and human services? We hope that the dialogue that comes out of this event will contribute to progressive thinking about how the budget of a wealthy state such as Illinois should be constructed and examine how Illinois can move beyond short-term budget crises to stable solutions.



Forum Video, Speakers, Presentations, and Resources:

Mike Gelder, Board Member, Health & Medicine policy Research Group (moderator)

Panel 1: Examining the impact of the budget impasse: What is the impact of Illinois’ current crisis? - Watch the Panel
Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy, Access Living
William McNary, Co-Director, Citizen Action Illinois, Responsible Budget Coalition

Panel 2: Understanding media coverage of Illinois budget issues: How can the media better illuminate state budgetary obligations? - Watch the Panel
John McCarron, Freelance Writer and Contributing Columnist, Chicago Tribune
Jamey Dunn-Thomason, Editor, Illinois Issues - follow the links for resources mentioned during Ms. Dunn-Thomason's presentation:
Panel 3: The Spending Side:What are Illinois’ spending obligations and how have we failed to meet them? - Watch the Panel
State Senator Donne Trotter, Illinois 17th District, Assistant Majority Leader; Chairperson, Appropriations II; Vice-Chairperson, Appropriations I
State Representative Robyn Gabel, Illinois 18th District, Vice-Chairperson, Appropriations-Human Services; Chairperson, Human Services
Jerry Stermer
, Adjunct Instructor, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University; Former Director, Governor's Office of Management and Budget - click here to view a budget forecast mentioned by Mr. Stermer during his presentation

Panel 4: The Revenue Side: How can Illinois fix its structural revenue shortfalls to fund an equitable budget? - Watch the Panel
Brian Hamer, Former Illinois Director of Revenue (2003-2015); Chief Tax Attorney for the City of Chicago; Tax Consultant and Author - Click here to view the presentation
Ralph Martire, Executive Director, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability - Click here to view the presentation

Panel 5: Working toward solutions: Lessons from other states & advocating for structural budget solutions - What can Illinois do to advance an equitable budget in both the short-and long-term? - Watch the Panel
Amisha Patel, Executive Director, Grassroots Collaborative - Click here to view the presentation
Jon Shure, Director of State Fiscal Strategies, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The current budget stalemate is the latest crisis emerging from our longer-term, structural budget problems resulting from the state’s revenue not growing with the size of its economy (the fifth largest state economy in the US).  Reliance on Illinois’ flat income tax leaves insufficient revenue to meet the basic human needs of the people of the state. To compensate for the structural deficit, over several decades, Illinois has missed repeated payments to its pension fund, neglected capital improvements, delayed payments to providers and other vendors, held rates below costs, and incurred long-term debt to meet current obligations.  The cuts that are anticipated to eventually resolve the current budget would be on top of those that Illinois has inflicted over the last few years.

The unwavering drumbeat of anti-unionism, low taxes, and government austerity must change if we intend to create a state that provides essential services, as well as educates its children and meets other commitments. The panelists explored the following questions:
  • What is the impact of Illinois’ current crisis?
  • How is the current crisis related to the long-term, structural insufficiency of revenue in Illinois?
  • How can Illinois fix its structural revenue shortfalls to fund an equitable budget?
  • What have other states done to ensure sufficient revenue that grows with their economies?
  • What can Illinois do to advance an equitable budget in both the short-and long-term?

About The Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy:
Each policy forum in The Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy series focuses on health reform efforts both in Illinois and in the Chicago area, including discussions of best practices from around the country.

Thank you to the Health Justice Project, at the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy, located at Loyola University Chicago School of Law for co-sponsoring this forum.


Health & Medicine wishes to thank the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust for its support of this event.