Fiscal Focus
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Fiscal Focus

MESSAGE FROM THE COMPTROLLER

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

Dear Reader,

It’s almost hard to believe that more than two years have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped our lives.

So many of us have witnessed this virus wreak havoc on family members and friends. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones and who have withstood the myriad challenges that have come with these difficult times.

In addition to the tragic cost of health and lives — more than 33,000 COVID-related deaths in Illinois as I write this — the pandemic continues to test Illinois’ economy.

These challenges come with lessons about what truly matters most. I am more steadfast than ever in my belief that first and foremost, government should protect the most vulnerable among us.

In order to do that best, Illinois needs a responsible budget and a solid strategy as it plans for the future.

I witnessed just how devastating a financial crisis can be when I first stepped into this role in 2016, in the middle of the 2015–2017 budget impasse. So much harm was caused that should and could have been avoided. It is my sincere hope our state never sees the likes of that self-inflicted misery again.

Despite all the obstacles we’ve had to overcome in recent years, Illinois is on the road to fiscal recovery.

In 2017, our General Funds bill cycle reached a historic 210 business-day period, leaving vendors — including those who deal in human and social services — in the lurch.

Today, that cycle is down to about 15 working days, well within the 30-day cycle we aim for. In fact this is the fastest payment cycle in the Comptroller’s Office in 20 years.

And our bill backlog has come down some 80%, from $16.7 billion in 2017 to around $3 billion today. This was achieved without using federal stimulus funds.

And of course, as this issue of Fiscal Focus explains, in 2021 we were proud to celebrate our first two credit upgrades in over 20 years — in the middle of a global pandemic.

On March 10, I joined State Rep. Michael Halpin in testifying before the Illinois House Revenue & Finance Committee about a measure that would codify automatic deposits into the state’s reserve account, the Budget Stabilization Fund.

When the pandemic hit, this fund — commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund — had a meager $60,000, not enough to run 30 seconds worth of state government operations. It had been decimated during the budget impasse. Had it been more robust, those dollars would have helped us weather the unpredictable storm the pandemic inflicted.

But here in Illinois we have proven we have what it takes to come back from past hardships and use those lessons to do better.

We’re righting our fiscal ship, regardless of the storms we encounter, and we have so much more ground to gain that will bring brighter days yet ahead.

I’m incredibly hopeful. The fact I can bring you an issue of Fiscal Focus that explores actionable ideas for the future of our Rainy Day Fund is proof Illinois is ready to plan for the future.

In this issue you will also read about the Cairo Women’s Shelter, which is doing valuable work by helping survivors of domestic abuse in Southern Illinois.

You’ll take in scenes of the river port in Cairo, where development is underway that will further connect Southern Illinois to international commerce and propel the economy there and throughout the state forward. Each year I visit Cairo and I am always inspired by the perseverance of its residents.

I’ll give you an update about Comptroller’s Critters and the work of those who help shelter pets get adopted. And I’ll tell you about state employees donating to worthy causes.

There’s a lot of good going on in this state, as this issue will serve to remind you.

I hope you find Fiscal Focus useful and informative. Your comments about this and other publications from this office are always welcome. Contact us at 800–877–8078 or info@illinoiscomptroller.gov.

Readers also can provide feedback throughout social media. The Illinois Office of Comptroller can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ILComptroller.

Thanks for reading,

Susana A. Mendoza
Illinois State Comptroller

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This publication is designed to provide fiscal information of general interest. Fiscal Focus is published by the office of Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, 201 Statehouse, Springfield IL 62706. Questions or comments may be directed to 217-782-6000.

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Illinois State Comptroller

Illinois State Comptroller

The official account for Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. Follow us for office services and #ILbudget updates.

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