Home > How the FPC Calculated ‘Discretionary’ Areas of FY17 Budget SHARE:

How the FPC Calculated “Discretionary” Areas of FY17 Budget

In estimating “discretionary” areas of the FY17 budget, we started with the “maintenance budget” shown in the Governor’s proposed budget document and worked backwards. Areas that the state cannot easily avoid (due to federal law, court orders, consent decrees, or existing state law) are considered “mandatory.” Areas that do not fit into these areas are considered “discretionary,” even if they are vitally important. The following provides details on the amounts and status of different general funds budget areas.

Debt service: $2.37 billion – all mandatory. The state is obligated to make debt service payments.  The General Obligation Bond Act authorizes a continuing appropriation if the General Assembly fails to appropriate the necessary amounts.

Statutory Transfers: $2.47 billion – all mandatory. Most of these transfers, under continuing appropriation statutes, are for local governments and transit systems. It is possible a budget might include changes to these line items. For purposes of this exercise, we’ve removed the amounts.

Pension Costs: $6.93 billion – all mandatory. It is possible, the General Assembly and Governor could adopt new pension legislation that would alter the annual contribution rate or restructure the pension payment amount. Given the current certified rates for FY17, it is assumed for purposes of this exercise that there would be no change impacting FY17.

Public Safety:  $1.72 billion – all mandatory. Of the $1.72 billion in general revenue funds, $1.68 billion goes towards the operations of the Department of Corrections and the Illinois State Police. Operations of state prisons and the patrolling of state highways continued in FY16 without a budget and are thus considered mandatory. We also considered amounts categorized under “public safety” from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as mandatory. The operations of both departments are mostly covered by court orders.

Human Services: Of the $5.44 billion for the human services category, we considered the following areas as mandatory:

  • $3.04 billion for Department of Human Services programs mandated by consent decrees or federal court orders.
  • $387 million for the Community Care Program (CCP) within the Department on Aging. This program provides home and community-based services to seniors. In his budget, the Governor proposes moving non-Medicaid seniors who are eligible for CCP to new Community Reinvestment Program. The $387 billion reflects CCP costs for the Medicaid-eligible population.
  • $260 million for DCFS and DJJ line items.

Healthcare: $8.17 billion – mandatory. As defined in the Governor’s budget, 99 percent of this budget category represents Medicaid expenditures. For this exercise, the entire category is removed. While the state may be able to adjust certain reimbursement rates to providers, that can result in making it harder for Medicaid patients to receive care if providers opt out of the program. Illinois already has some of the lowest Medicaid costs per enrollee in the Midwest.

Group Health Insurance:  $1.81 billion – mandatory. While the Governor has reached agreement with several unions representing state employees, there still is no agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Thus, it is assumed for this exercise that the group health insurance numbers reflects the current obligation to employees. Refusing to appropriate enough funds for group health insurance does not save the state money, because the state still owes healthcare providers for services rendered. Inadequate appropriations for group health would once again increase unpaid bills. 

PreK-12 education, higher education, government services, economic development, and environment and culture: All of these areas are broadly discretionary.

It is possible additional amounts within the budget categories must be appropriated to capture federal matching dollars. We have not made adjustments in this exercise to count them as non-discretionary measures.