I'll go more into topics like the UW System, Transportation, and DNR's Stewardship Fund and Science positions as the week goes on. But it does appear that there will be a few more dollars that the Joint Finance Committee will have to play with as a result of numerous re-estimates of provisions and costs, based on updated information that has occurred between the Governor's submission of the budget more than 3 1/2 months ago. I'll touch on a few of those numbers in this post.
One of the biggest breaks the state got from these re-estimates came from lower-than-anticipated costs in paying off debt, as the LFB says there will be nearly $22.7 million in savings due to a couple of reasons.
Since the introduction of AB 21/SB 21, DOA Capital Finance has provided updated information on the estimated debt service payments for the 2015-17 biennium included in the bill. This office has reviewed those estimates that and projects that GPR debt service payments could be reduced by $12,165,000 in 2015-16 and $10,519,100 in 2016-17.So thank the Federal Reserve for bailing out a small part of this deficit-ridden budget, maybe some of that could be used to drop the $1.3 billion in borrowing for the Scott Walker's highway building binge, or to lessen some of the $300 million in cuts to the UW System, or fill in some other gap that still exists in this budget.
These reestimated lapse amounts are associated with: (a) $10,729,500 in 2015-16 and $3,994,000 in 2016-17 to reflect the updated estimates of GPR-supported bonds issuance affecting the 2015-17 biennium, as well as the 2015 Series A general obligation bond issue and the 2015 Series A general obligation bond refunding bonds issues carried out since AB21/SB 21 were introduced; and (b) $1,435,500 in 2015-16 and $6,525,100 in 2016-17 to reflect lower interest costs than those included in earlier estimates.
There are also new figures for several tax credits. Some of these will come in less than previously estimated, and help the budget, and some will have bigger write-offs, causing more difficulty for the budget. Here's the rundown, with the lower tax credits being listed as negative, and higher tax credits being positive.
Adjustments to tax credits
Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit -$5.4 million
Illinois Reciprocity Payments -$12.0 million
EITC -$4.0 million
Jobs Tax Credit -$24.6 million
Enterprise Zone +$13.8 million
Expired Tax Credits +$0.3 million
Change of two credits to Sum Suff. -$1.1 million
Angel/Seed Investment +$8.8 million
NET CHANGE -$24.2 million
So there's another break, and barring any last-minute surprises in revenues or some other kind of complication, this is pretty much what we have available. So these new factors have added a cushion of around $47 million. Obviously, that's a very small amount in a budget of well over $31 billion in General Fund dollars, but it's worth keeping our eyes out to see if the JFC takes any action with these savings, or if they don't. And while it's nothing compared to the huge topics and big-ticket budget items that are coming up, any little grab of savings to salvage an awful and austere budget is needed in times like this.