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August 30, 2011
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State Commission to Examine, Prioritize Budget Funding for FY13

In tough economic times, finding cost efficiencies with limited resources is becoming more and more essential for all levels of government. One of GO TO 2040's primary recommendation areas focuses on strategic, coordinated investment in government. In allocating nearly $50 billion annually across a variety of program areas, the State of Illinois has many challenges, but also great opportunities, to move toward this goal. GO TO 2040 stresses the importance of performance-driven criteria when making investment decisions. Criteria that emphasize economic impact and job creation as well as economic and environmental sustainability and quality of life can propel the region and state toward the two objectives of supporting economic vitality and fostering more livable communities. The extent to which the state emphasizes these factors -- whether it is making an investment in a highway, wastewater treatment plant, or workforce development program -- will affect the outcomes achieved.

State budgets are vital documents that set investment priorities and articulate policy direction. They are also a way for residents and businesses to understand how and where government allocates resources and for what purposes. CMAP is closely watching the implementation of HB 5424-- called "Budgeting for Results (BFR)" -- which was signed by the Governor in February 2011. BFRis a new method the state will use to help agencies set priorities, meet goals, and deliver services to achieve the best value possible to taxpayers. Careful implementation of BFR may help improve the state's budgeting process, increase efficiencies, and target investments to where they are needed most.

BFR has been identified as a high priority by the Governor's administration, which has outlined six prioritized budget outcomes, including:

  • Education: Quality education and opportunities for growth and learning for all Illinois students.
  • Economic Development: Enhanced economic well-being of citizens.
  • Public Safety: Protection of citizens' lives and property.
  • Human Services: Protection of the most vulnerable of our citizens.
  • Quality of Life: Improved quality of life of citizens.
  • Government Services: Improved efficiency and stability of state government.

To help reform the state's budget process, the legislation also called for a BFR commission, which met for the first time in August. The commission's overall goal is to help prioritize agency programs in conjunction with multi-year revenue forecasts and to develop a report that will help direct the fiscal 2013 budget cycle. Among the commission's key objectives will be to determine spending priorities and to examine how agencies and programs can be funded on the basis of performance. Rigid and compartmentalized state programs can hinder efficient service delivery and promote duplication. This inflexibility discourages agencies from addressing common goals across agency jurisdictions and issue areas.

When deciding how to set priorities and target investments, the state can find ample assistance from GO TO 2040, which recommends a series of more targeted investments across areas like transportation and other infrastructure, economic development, natural resources, and more. One of the chief messages of GO TO 2040 is that careful targeting of expenditures, via the use of better data and performance-driven criteria, can achieve positive results. In addition, investments should be comprehensive in scope and reflect linkages among different areas like transportation, housing, and the environment. By pursuing these types of objectives, the state can help foster a strong economy and other desirable quality-of-life outcomes for residents and businesses.

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