Updates and Events

2009 Fiscal Symposium

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting the State's Fiscal Condition

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton opened CTBA’s 8th Annual Fiscal Symposium by saying that the budget is tight and the state agencies have already been cut to the bare bones. Cullerton said that the state must pass a budget bill and a capital bill and there is a $3 billion gap. That gap must be filled either through a temporary or permanent tax increase or other methods but the money must be found to move forward.

Ralph Martire, CTBA’s Executive Director, said, “Given the recession and fiscal challenges facing us today it is time for Illinois Government to grow up and level with the voters. We can’t invest in tomorrow without fixing our regressive tax system today. Fixing the tax system is the best way to fix the budget and the best way to get the economy moving.”

The Symposium, moderated by Beyond the Beltway’s Bruce DuMont, heard from panelists Illinois Representative William Davis, 30th District; Illinois Representative David E. Miller, 29th District; Jesse Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education; Daniel Schwick, Assistant to the President of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and Matthew Gardner, Policy Analyst for the Citizens for Tax Justice.

Miller talked about the need for taxes to be raised progressively to safeguard education and other necessary funding. Ruiz talked about the fact that we need to unhook education funding from property taxes to create a more equitable funding mechanism, today’s system is hurting education. Schwick emphasized the fact there are many reasons for people to be in need and that one part of the problem, for example, education, cannot be fixed at the expense of other human care needs i.e. healthcare, housing, etc. and that there needs to be strengthening of the safety net by public and private sources. Gardner emphasized that Illinois tax policy has the least exemptions and credits for families with low income and has the most regressive tax policies in the nation. Taxes need to be raised, but not without safeguards for low income families.

The conference was held March 30th at the Union League Club in Chicago.