Governor's Budget UnveiledFebruary 18, 2015
Governor Rauner unveiled his proposed 2016 state budget today. Among the most sweeping changes to state operations proposed are huge cuts to Medicaid, social services, and programs for the disabled; almost immediate termination of current state defined-benefit pension programs; a 30% reduction in higher education funding; and proposed elimination of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as a separate entity. It will take some time to determine how all of these proposed changes might impact the library community.
A quick review of current library grant programs, however, suggests that libraries may fare better than many other state-funded programs. It appears that the Governor is proposing approximately 10% reductions in the Illinois Secretary of State's library grants. The Governor has proposed additional funding for elementary and secondary education that might make it possible for school libraries to avoid some cuts. On the other hand, his proposal to cut higher education funding by 30% will likely put pressure on academic libraries.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for public libraries under the Governor's budget is his proposal to freeze local property taxes and simultaneously reduce the Local Government Distributive Formula funding, a combination that could result in significant cuts to local government budgets.
The Governor's proposed budget is the opening salvo in what will be a long and bitter budget fight. ILA will continue to update our members on all budget developments, but now is a good time to remind your local officials how cutting state funds to libraries while also restricting local property tax revenues will prevent libraries from providing vital services that our residents and taxpayers demand.