A leading voice for bringing fiscal stability to Illinois

State Finance

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis

The Civic Committee was working to update our Restore Illinois report, which was originally released in February of 2019 and outlined a path to fiscal stability for the state. Given the certain but difficult to estimate impact of the virus on state revenues and expenditures, we are delaying release of the updated report for the time being. There are additional factors to consider, including declining financial returns in the existing pension funds and the potential for federal financial assistance. In the meantime, the original report and its recommendations remain on our website and the core principles remain valid: the State’s fiscal situation is a drag on the State’s economy and job growth. Long-term fiscal stability will require a mix of new revenues, spending reductions, structural reforms and, most important, a spirit of shared sacrifice on the part of everyone in the state. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders across Illinois to help set our state on a path of fiscal stability and economic growth.

Why We’re Involved

For too long the State of Illinois has failed to address its dismal fiscal situation.  By consistently using debt to finance operations and failing to make required pension contributions, State government has put our State’s ongoing vitality at risk. 

The State's pension is funded at approximately 40%, and required payments are increasing, crowding out other critical State spending.  Increasing State debt and a backlog of unpaid bills continue to strain resources.

The Civic Committee recognizes the critical importance of sound fiscal practices and has been a long-time advocate for prudent approaches that will stimulate growth.  Illinois needs meaningful action now.

What We’ve Done

Our 2019 report, Restore Illinois: A Foundation for Growth, lays out a comprehensive plan to put Illinois back on a sound financial footing.  It calls for the State to fully fund its pension plans, pay down the bill backlog, establish a reserve fund, and balance the State budget. And, it details a plan for doing so immediately, without a lengthy process dependent on constitutional amendments or other actions in the future. The report was the result of years-long research and analysis by the Civic Committee’s Tax Policy Task Force, composed of members who are top business leaders in the region. 

This latest report follows in a long tradition of calling attention and presenting solutions to the most pressing issues in State finance.  In 2017, the Task Force offered its first comprehensive set of solutions to Illinois' financial situation in Bringing Illinois Back: A Framework for Our Future

The Civic Committee was one of the earliest voices drawing attention to the pension crisis.  In 2006, we released Facing Facts saying that Illinois is on its way to financial implosion.  We also launched Illinois is Broke to ensure the unfunded pension liability was on every elected leader’s agenda and to make pension reform a key election topic.  Because of our efforts, the General Assembly passed a major pension reform bill in 2012; however, it was later deemed unconstitutional. 

Over the years, our members have served as leaders in efforts to resolve the critical issues facing Illinois.  Lester Crown and Eden Martin served on the Commission to Strengthen Chicago’s Pension Funds.  Later, to address the State-level pension crisis, Eden Martin also served on Governor Quinn’s Pension Modernization Task Force. 

What We’ve Learned

As a thought leader on State finance, we have produced the following reports that detail the issues and propose solutions:

Restore Illinois: A Foundation for Growth (2019)

Bringing Illinois Back: A Framework for our Future (2017)

Just the Facts (2012)

Facing Facts 2009: An Updated Report on the State of Illinois’ Fiscal Crisis (2009)

Facing Facts (2006)

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