Simon Review Paper #59


This paper is about taxing, revenue, and public budgeting in Illinois. The concept of public budgeting includes both the revenues raised by government and the ways in which those revenues are spent on the functions and programs sponsored by governments. This paper focuses especially on spending, that is, on how and where revenue is distributed in the state in the form of public services and programs. It provides relevant data on the statewide distribution patterns and especially the question of whether those expenditures of the tax-payers’ money disproportionately benefit one region over the other. This question has provoked a long debate in Illinois, and it is one of the key questions influencing budgeting, and most notably, the raising of revenue in the state. The distinctive backdrop for this analysis is the two-year stalemate over the state’s budget from 2015-2017, which did lasting damage to the state and the continuing questions over what Illinois should do next regarding taxes and spending, which were crucial issues in the 2018 elections. The same issues were important again in the 2020 elections, especially in the battle over Governor J.B. Pritzker’s graduated income tax referendum. The defeat of the governor’s signature plan ensures that this debate will continue well into the future in Illinois, including the possibility of a rerun of the constitutional amendment proposal in the 2022 elections.