2.24.2010

Little deficit on the prairie

Illinois has a budget problem:

To experts, that is an astoundingly scary ratio that ranks Illinois as one of the nation's worst fiscal basket cases — if not the worst. The budget deficit in Illinois is almost as big as the one facing California, a financially beleaguered state that has triple Illinois' population...

I didn't know it's that bad.

In short, the deficit is half as big as the core of the state budget.

Egad! What to cut? Taxes are down across the board and I wouldn't expect the economy to get better here soon. In housing Chicago and the Midwest move more slowly than the coasts so although the amplitude of the housing boom and bust wasn't as great as on the coasts, it will still take a while to recover.

It seemed like things were looking up for the university this year, with the clout list scandal that erupted last year in the past. However in the last couple of months we've been getting scarily worded emails from the interim leadership. The most recent dispatch started: Due to an excessive delay in the payment of our appropriation by the State of Illinois and uncertainty over what lies ahead, your university is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges.

According to this short pdf, it looks like the university is $745 million short from the state which has started accumulating since last summer.

I've already seen one professor's door with a note blatantly explaining how he wouldn't be at meetings since he was taking a furlough day. I remember some talk about furloughs at the UW last summer. It seemed like they had started belt tightening more than a year before I left.

This year is a big election cycle for Illinois, with the governor seat up for election, so I doubt anyone will be up for the bold action needed.