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Institute on Social Exclusion Analyzes Impact of Illinois' Budget Impasse 07.01.16
Institute on Social Exclusion Analyzes Impact of Illinois' Budget Impasse

Although Illinois legislators and the governor have agreed on a six-month budget agreement to start the state's new fiscal year, their failure to enact a state budget for more than a year will affect Illinois for many years to come.

Adler University’s Institute on Social Exclusion has analyzed those implications in a new report titled The Downward Spiral: The Impact of Illinois’ Year Without a Budgetexamining long-term damage to economic opportunities, higher education, mental health and social services, and justice system reform in Illinois. 

The report details how Illinois has operated under a structural deficit since the early 2000s, and the resulting stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and state legislators over how to resolve the problems and improve the state's economy.

“Illinois has a long history of fiscal mismanagement and ‘pay-later budgeting’—which, no doubt, needs to be addressed. However, effectively, our lawmakers have decided to address a looming crisis with a more devastating and immediate one,” says Daniel Cooper, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Social Justice.

The Downward Spiral

Without a budget, the state has stopped payments to businesses, nonprofits, higher learning institutions and state agencies, forcing them to cut services or close altogether.

“Predictably, the most vulnerable Illinois residents are bearing the brunt of this year of inaction,” said Tiffany McDowell, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Social Exclusion. “Poor communities of color, especially children and the elderly, have experienced disparate hardships. The existing inequality has significantly widened and will continue to do so as long as full state funding levels are delayed.”

In the last year, lack of state funding has exacerbated problems of unemployment, poverty, homelessness and mental health issues—leading to an epidemic of violent crime and increased spending on incarceration.

The instability is causing families and businesses to flee the state and scaring off many considering moving to Illinois. This in turn drives down tax revenues, leaving the state with fewer funds to address more and increasingly urgent problems and undermining the state’s goals to restore peace and prosperity in Illinois.

In higher education, state-funded grants for high-need students have been withheld, causing 2016 enrollment to plummet by 13 percent. While low-income communities have lost social supports, a major pathway out of poverty has also been effectively closed.

Read the full report here.

About the Institute on Social Exclusion

The Adler University Institute on Social Exclusion (ISE) generates research, education, and advocacy to build more equitable, healthy and inclusive communities. In collaboration with a wide range of community, government, public policy, and philanthropic partners, the ISE applies its work in three areas of expertise necessary to creating equity, health, and inclusion:

  • Social determinants: Analyzing social determinants—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age—that harm individual, community, and population health;
  • Social exclusion: Identifying policies and practices that systemically exclude and marginalize entire populations;
  • Strategies for achieving equity: Providing community-informed solutions, models for public policy, and approaches to improve social determinants and dismantle social exclusion.

Learn more at or email

About Adler University

Adler University educates students to engage the world and create a more just society. Established in 1952, it enrolls more than 1,400 students in master’s and doctoral programs for social change through its campuses in downtown Chicago and Vancouver, as well as an Online Campus. Adler University’s mission is to continue the pioneering work of Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist, by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities and advancing social justice.