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Illinois’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Illinois’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $87.5 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, Illinois’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $124.0 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,792 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.
Illinois’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($2,280) and public welfare ($1,899). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
Illinois’s combined state and local general revenues were $128.4 billion in FY 2019, or $10,138 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Illinois uses all major state and local taxes. Illinois’s largest sources of per capita revenue were property taxes ($2,339) and federal transfers ($1,886).
Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, was elected in 2018 with 55 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022.
Democrats control both the House of Representatives (73 Democrats to 45 Republicans) and Senate (41 Democrats to 18 Republicans), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Democrats a trifecta in Illinois. All Illinois House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve a combination of two- and four-year terms during each decade’s legislative district apportionment cycle. This 2-4-4 term system ensures all Senate seats are up for election after new legislative district boundaries are drawn. All senators are therefore up for election in 2022.
Illinois’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
Illinois uses an annual budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. The state does not have any tax or expenditure limits (a temporary expenditure limit expired in 2015), but there are limits on total authorized debt incurred by the state (but not on debt service).
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
Illinois’s current budget
Illinois enacted its FY 2022 budget in June 2021. The enacted budget included $110.7 billion in total spending and $41.3 billion in general fund spending.
Under the American Rescue Plan, Illinois will receive $8.1 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $5.2 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Illinois had spent part of its ARP funds on capital construction, economic development, and public health programs.
According to NASBO, Illinois’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
FY 2021: $37.7 billion/$87.5 billion
FY 2020: $36.1 billion/$77.8 billion
FY 2019: $36.4 billion/$71.8 billion
For more on Illinois’s budget, see
Illinois’s economic trends
Illinois’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $67,095 in 2021, ranking 11th among the states. It was above both the national average of $63,444 and the Great Lakes regional average of $59,346. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $68,428 in 2020, ranking 17th among the states and above the national average of $64,994. Illinois’s poverty rate was 12 percent in 2020 (five-year estimate), below the national rate of 12.8 percent.
Although Illinois’s averages tell a story about the entire state, Illinois is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of East St. Louis’s median household income was $24,009, and its poverty rate was 30.6 percent; the city of Wilmette’s median household income was $161,765, and its poverty rate was 3.3 percent.
Illinois’s unemployment rate has historically been above the national average, and in recent years it has been among the highest in the country. (See how COVID-19 is affecting state employment and earnings data.)
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. In Illinois, the average unemployment rate in 2021 was 5.1 percent for white residents, 12.3 percent for Black residents, and 6.9 percent for Hispanic or Latino residents. (This is preliminary data. See the 2020 data for a more detailed breakdown of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.)