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Groups Concerned About 'Sweeping' Of 'Special Funds' Amid Illinois Budget Standoff

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Some groups are bracing for the problems of a future Illinois state budget that doesn’t raise taxes high enough or cuts spending.

Juliana Pino works for LVEJO, an environmental justice group in Chicago. They helped get the state to invest nearly $200 million in clean energy programs for people with low incomes. But she says lawmakers could renege on the law and use program money to fill other budget holes.
“We’ll probably see the program start to run next year," she said. "But, in the meantime, we want to make sure that the agencies get what they need to get that money out the door to communities that need it.”
Her worry comes from a budgeting tactic called a “fund sweep.” To avoid new taxes or cutting popular services, lawmakers have swept money from special accounts intended for one thing — like roads — and used it for everyday spending.
In 2015, lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner swept more than $1 billion dollars from special funds to help cover that year’s deficit.

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois. He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield. He graduated from Macalester College. Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.