One week after the General Assembly passed the FY 2024 spending plan, questions remain about whether the budget will truly be balanced at the year’s end. Senate Republicans point to hidden spending found throughout the budget that could put the state’s spending well over expected revenues.
One example of possible “phantom” spending in this year’s budget, which also served as a major point of contention during negotiations, is a program solely funded by Illinois taxpayers that provides free healthcare to undocumented immigrants. Illinois is currently the only state in the nation to provide this level of healthcare to noncitizens ages 42 and older.
During budget hearings throughout the year, the Governor’s Administration provided a cost estimate of the program at a whopping $1.1 billion. Despite knowing this estimate, the Majority Party only allocated $550 million to the program in the budget—just half of what it’s expected to cost taxpayers. While Democrats claim that they also provided the Governor with rule-making authority to rein in the ballooning program, Senate Republicans say it’s hard to believe that a rule change will be able to reduce the costs by $550 million, especially after the Governor and the Majority Party have made it clear they would not be willing to cut existing enrollees from the program.
Another example of hidden spending is the anticipation of a new AFSCME contract, which the Governor is expected to agree to, at an additional cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Funding for this new contract for thousands of state employees was conveniently left out of the budget.
With just a $100 million surplus in the legislatively approved FY 2024 budget plan, it’s doubtful that the minimal surplus will be enough to cover the true costs of the state.
The FY 2024 budget has been touted throughout the week by the Governor, but still awaits his signature.

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