There is no easy way to repair Illinois’ chronic annual deficit. That’s according to the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
An analysis from the university's Fiscal Futures Project says the state currently faces a $9 billion annual deficit that will grow to $14 billion in about a decade.
Officials say the state hasn't paid the $159 billion debt, which is more than twice the inflow of revenue in a single year. Solving the debt problem will require a long-term plan that includes tax increases, spending cuts and economic growth.
You might notice roads and bridges in need of repair as you drive around this holiday weekend. But revenue from a key funding source, the gas tax, has been declining. It's charged per gallon of gas purchased. U of I professor Don Fullerton says it was created on a simple concept:
"The more you drive, the more gas you use. The more you ought to have to pay for the road. It's sort of a benefit principle of taxation."
Improved mileage in vehicles means less gas is being used. Fullerton says change is needed to keep up with demand: