On Wednesday, Governor Pritzker provided a budget update highlighting the impact COVID-19 has had on Illinois’ budget to date. A full copy of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget report is here. The Governor noted he plans to pass a budget with the help of the General Assembly. He indicated that they will work together to make tough choices and promised to not balance the budget on the backs of the vulnerable and poor.
GOMB and the Department of Revenue currently estimate that FY 2020 general funds state revenues will be approximately $2.7 billion below the February estimate of $36.9 billion. The primary driver of the revenue shortfall is the delay of the income tax deadline from April 15th to July 15th. Sales taxes are projected to be 8.7% lower than previously anticipated and gaming revenues are expected to fall by $207 million.
GOMB is taking several actions to address the short-fall in this fiscal year. Agency directors are asked to hold all non-essential purchases and operational expenditures, freeze all travel that is not mission essential, and limit all non-essential hiring. These actions are projected to save $25 million. In addition, the Comptroller and Treasurer have extended $400 million in investment borrowing agreements that were due to be repaid from the General Revenue Fund in March and April to July 2020. The state will also implement $323 million in interfund borrowing and utilize $1.2 billion in short-term borrowing.
Fiscal year 2021 general funds state source revenue estimates are being revised $4.6 billion down from an estimated state source base revenue of $38.5 billion. The Governor cautioned that figure could grow to $7.4 billion in revenue shortfalls without passage of the Graduated Income Tax Constitutional Amendment in November.
As of Thursday, Illinois is reporting 1,140 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s overall total number of cases to 25,733 in 90 of Illinois’ 102 counties. An additional 125 people lost their lives in the past 24 hours, which is the single largest death toll in Illinois to date. The state’s death toll now stands at 948.
Although statistically, experts believe Illinois may be starting to flatten the curve, both Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ezike warn Illinois residents need to stay the course. He is not prepared at this time to discuss when or how Illinois can return to some level of normalcy. Testing capacity to identify who actively has the virus and who has had the virus are key to re-opening the state. Illinois’ current stay-at-home order ends April 30th, although an extension is likely.
Several Midwestern states have formed a COVID-19 Compact to coordinate efforts to reopen the economy. Participating states include Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky. At this time, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri are not participating. The compact will coordinate a number of aspects including sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations; enhanced ability to test and trace; sufficient health care capacity to handle a resurgence; and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.
Testing: Illinois’ testing capacity continues to increase. The Thermo Fisher automated machines that Illinois acquired are now functioning and reliable which will add the ability to conduct thousands of additional tests daily. Illinois has partnered with universities and vendors to provide enough viral transport medium and swabs to supply both state testing centers and local laboratories. In addition, new FQHC sites will be open throughout Illinois to provide testing. Locations will be listed here .
With the ability to perform increased testing, Illinois’ recommended testing criteria will now include all those who are experiencing symptoms suggesting COVID-19. The new guidance will apply to state-run drive-thru testing centers and will be offered to medical providers across Illinois. Persons with mild symptoms are still encouraged to call a medical provider before seeking a COVID-19 test.
Unemployment: A record number of Illinoisans are applying for unemployment benefits. Since March 1st, the Illinois Department of Employment Security website has fielded over 6.5 million sessions and the IDES call center has processed thousands of calls per day. The Department continues to take steps to ease the burden of those seeking benefits. To that end, IDES overhauled its website, expanded call center capacity, built private partnerships with technology companies, expanded insurance eligibility, implemented emergency rules to ease eligibility requirements, and waived the waiting week.
Wage Garnishment: New summons for wage garnishment and deductions, as well as citations to discover assets for debt collection, will be temporarily suspended for the duration of Illinois’ disaster proclamation under an Executive Order issued this week. The order is here.
Workers Compensation Emergency Rules:The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission issued emergency rules which automatically create a presumption that if a health care worker, first responder or other essential worker contracts COVID-19, they must have contracted it while on the job. The emergency rule is here.
Health Care Capacity: Illinois’ doubling rate, both for hospitalizations and mortality rates, is improving as is Illinois’ hospital capacity. Illinois’ hospital capacity has increased by approximately 5,000 beds over last year, with Illinois now having roughly 30,000 beds as of today.COVID-19 patients occupy 40% of Illinois’ total ICU beds, which is down from the 43% a week ago. COVID-19 patients occupy 25% of total ventilators which is down from 29% earlier in the month.
To date, 3,600 retired and out-of-state healthcare workers have rejoined the workforce in Illinois.
Illinois Comptroller: The Illinois Comptroller created an online portal to track the state’s COVID-19 related purchases and amounts spent on necessary supplies for the ongoing fight against the deadly virus. The site will be updated daily. Click here to access the portal.
As of April 14, Illinois has spent more than $169.58 million on purchases related to COVID-19, including supplies such as ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns, protective eyewear, hand sanitizer, swabs and more.
Department of Human Services: The Illinois Department of Human Services is temporarily closing the remaining 11 Family Community Resource Centers to the public, starting Thursday, April 16th. Anyone wishing to access benefits must now do so online.