SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — When Illinois’ budget impasse started, the state had no money in its savings account. The same can be said for the pandemic.
But that is changing as the state continues to pour money into its Rainy Day Fund. State Comptroller Susana Mendoza deposited $100 million into the fund on Wednesday, bringing the total amount inside to $854 million.
In a press release, Mendoza’s office explained that the fund protects the programs that Illinoisans rely on from their state, including schools, care for the elderly, investigating claims of child abuse and many other things the state does.
The goal is to hit $1 billion by the end of the year, a far cry from the amount the fund had when Mendoza took office.
“During the budget impasse when I first took office, the Rainy Day Fund had less than $60,000 – not enough to run state operations for 30 seconds,” Mendoza said. “The bond rating agencies noted Illinois had the lowest Rainy Day Fund in the country.”
Since then, Mendoza worked with State Representative Michael Halpin (D-Rock Island) and State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) to introduce a bill that would require automatic payments into the Rainy Day Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund. Mendoza said that Illinois is now budgeting responsibly and prudently building the Rainy Day Fund up to $1 billion by the end of the year.
“Any financial advisor would tell someone that in their own home, they should save for a rainy day, and they should have at least six months worth of savings set aside in case of an emergency,” Mendoza said. “And I don’t think state should be any different.”
Mendoza called the progress a good start, but said there is still a long way to go to get the Rainy Day Fund to where experts said it needs to be. For the state to be in a strong financial position, Mendoza said the Rainy Day Fund would need to be closer to $3.4 billion. That way, the state could continue operating through another crisis like a budget impasse.