Part of the problem is the fact that these costs have grown from previous fiscal years – because there is no budget, there have been no reforms or cost-saving measures put into place. In addition, the temporary tax hike expired, meaning revenue dropped. These factors have combined to leave an approximately $6 billion budget deficit.
This has left Illinois in an extremely precarious spot. At some point, the state will simply not be able to pay its bills, in addition to all the parts of a normal budget that aren’t being funded right now. As weeks go by and bills pile up, the problem keeps getting worse. This is what’s making it harder for any ground to be made up in crafting a solution. There is no easy answer and no minor fix that will solve everything. Righting the ship now leaves us with few options: major, drastic cuts, the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime; or revenue could be increased via tax hikes or new taxes; and of course the third option is some combination of the previous two, but it would likely still necessitate serious cuts and substantial new tax burdens.
This whole mess is like a ticking time-bomb. The longer it takes to reach a compromise, the more drastic the solution will have to be. For example, new or increased taxes become more difficult every day, because they would have to be retroactive to collect enough money, leaving residents with a large tax bill at the end of the year, instead of small amounts deducted from checks and bills throughout the year.
At some point, we will find a solution. But the decisions we will have to make, and the actions we must take, will not be easy. In addition, we still continue to tackle the myriad issues facing our state.
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Senator Sam McCann