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Deputy governor to state agencies: Prepare to make cuts

Agency directors are told to trim budgets by 6.5%, shrink number of boards and commissions.

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes
Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes
Sun-Times file photo

Although Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has been basking in the glow of a full-year budget — full of new revenue and taxes — Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes this week warned state agencies they should be prepared to make cuts come next year.

In a Sept. 9 memo to all cabinet directors, Hynes and Alexis Sturm, the governor’s budget director, wrote that despite a “successful balanced budget,” the state is still in trouble.

“We must continue to be wise fiscal stewards of the limited resources of State government,” the memo said, citing the state’s backlog of unpaid bills still at $7 billion and interest costs stemming from the impasse.

Hynes and Sturm said agency directors should propose a budget that includes a 6.5% cut. They also recommended agencies conduct a review of boards and commissions and propose a 10% reduction of them. The memo, too, asked directors to look for two “significant efficiency and savings ideas” for next year’s budget. That includes consolidation of duplicative programs, funding reductions for underutilized services or improvements to streamline costs.

The memo comes as the governor’s budget office begins to develop a spending plan for state agencies for the fiscal year that begins next July.

Pritzker in June signed into law his first budget, a $40.1 billion spending plan, saying it represented “a new era of fiscal stability.” The rookie governor took a victory lap for all the bills passed in the overtime spring legislative session, including legalization of marijuana, a capital bill and a balanced budget.

Despite those victories, the state will have to wait and see just how well marijuana legalization and expanded gambling will do for the state’s finances.