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Illinois' Financial Condition Is Dire, Gov. Rauner Warns


And it's budget time in many states. Most are now projecting strong growth, even surpluses - not, however, the state of Illinois. There, a gaping budget hole appears to be even bigger than previously thought, as NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Republican Governor Bruce Rauner knew the job would come with at least a $2- to $3-billion state budget deficit. But after winning the office last fall, he got a look at the books and found it's even worse.


GOVERNOR BRUCE RAUNER: Our financial condition here in Illinois is dire. And every time we look under the hood and look in different departments, look in different issues, the problem is the deficits, the overspending, is more significant than has been discussed.

SCHAPER: And a new report suggests Illinois's budget hole is much, much bigger than projected, closer to $6 billion this year. And...

RICHARD DYE: Looking ahead to next fiscal year, we estimate that the state's budget gap, the deficit, is on the order of $10 billion.

SCHAPER: That's Richard Dye of the University of Illinois's Institute of Government and Public Affairs and co-author of a study of the state's finances called, alarmingly, "Apocalypse Now."

DYE: The problem is so big that it's hard to think of it being fixed.

SCHAPER: And so far new Governor Rauner has offered no way to dig Illinois out of its huge budget hole, but he'll have to soon. He's scheduled to deliver his budget address next month. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

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