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Pain on the Way: Illinois’ Budget Cuts Hit Home

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Cash-strapped cities, towns and suburbs set to slash public safety, reduce pension costs, tap rainy day funds and explore bankruptcy, a BGA Rescuing Illinois report finds.

Dire budgeting and cost-cutting scenarios are playing out in communities throughout Illinois in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s unprecedented push to slash funds the state provides local governments, a BGA Rescuing Illinois investigation finds.

In his proposed 2016 budget, Rauner is seeking to save $600 million by slicing in half the share of income taxes the state distributes annually to local governments. A final state budget is still being hammered out in Springfield, and municipalities are lobbying hard to retain their funding, but deep local cutbacks are expected no matter what the ultimate outcome.

For municipalities statewide, a reduction translates into significant layoffs, cutting or stretching vital services such as public safety, delaying necessary maintenance and abandoning some public projects.

The fiscal situation is so dire that local governments may rally behind a proposed law allowing Illinois municipalities to file bankruptcy and reorganize their debts. Others argue the state is trying to solve its financial crisis on the backs of local government.

“This shifts the problem from the state level to the local level,” said Ed Paesel, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, which represents more than 40 communities…Read more here.

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