The year 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most memorable and consequential periods in a lifetime, as COVID-19 continues to influence our lives and livelihoods in ways we never imagined. From face coverings and social distancing, to business closures and remote learning, the people of Illinois will feel the effects of this pandemic for months and years to come.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: I believe big challenges lie ahead for the State of Illinois.
Our state had just started to see the faintest of light between the trees after surviving a 736-day budget stalemate that nearly crippled state operations, human service providers, and higher education. We were paying down a backlog of unpaid bills, investing in education, and looking forward to a new statewide construction program that would pump money into the economy and put people to work.
But when COVID-19 took hold in mid-March, people stayed home, businesses shuttered, unemployment skyrocketed, and the economy took a hit. That all adds up to less revenue for Illinois and potentially difficult financial decisions ahead.
We didn’t ask for a pandemic, and we certainly didn’t ask to have our feet knocked out from under us just as we were making significant headway in restoring confidence in Illinois. But here we are.
Without question, Illinois — and every other state, frankly — will need financial support from the federal government to bring much-needed stability back to state and local government. Taxpayers, bond houses, businesses, human service providers, schools, and colleges and universities need to know that together we will pull through this unprecedented time.
In this issue of Fiscal Focus, we explain the condition of Illinois’ finances pre-pandemic, and we offer some perspective about where we are now and what may be coming our way.
Also in this issue, we catch up with some human service providers who are relearning how to provide programs during a global pandemic, and we update readers on the spring legislative session and the vote-by-mail program lawmakers approved.
Finally, you’ll find a reminder of why it’s critical for Illinois that every resident responds to the 2020 U.S. census.
I hope you find Fiscal Focus useful and informative. Your comments about this and other publications from this office are always welcome. You can contact us at 800-877-8078 or email@example.com.
Thanks for reading.
Susana A. Mendoza
Illinois State Comptroller