Director, Commonwealth Policy Center
Many of us have read about the road fund mess in Illinois that is beyond the ability of the state to fix.  Then came the Great Budget Impasse of 2015 (since July15).  The legislature has been deadlocked and is months overdue in passing a budget.  The temporary spending bills have created a situation where the state continues to spend more than is coming in at an unsustainable level.  The state Treasurer first issued a directive that no check could be written for more than $25,000.  That did not work, so the Treasurer lowered the limit to $600.

This was applied even to the lottery.  No winner could be written a check in excess of $600 until the budget impasse is resolved.  The Lottery players were incensed that they would have to wait on a bunch politicians to resolve what may be nearly impossible.  Predictably, Lottery sales have dropped in Illinois and increased at near the border vendors in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa.  Wisconsin did not provide information, but there are a lot of vendors near the border with Chicago.

Since the October 14 announcement that the Lottery would hold checks larger than $600, the flow of Illinoisans to bordering states has obviously increased.  One Kentucky retailer indicated a 13% increase in ticket sales, and an Indiana vendor estimated an 80% increase In her Indiana Lottery sales.  The end of the impasse is not in sight.  The governor wants a more favorable environment for business, and the legislature want higher taxes, and while they argue the debt piles up.  While the governor and legislature wrestle for power, the problem continues to grow.

Sophia Taureen, “Illinois lottery players see Indiana as generous,”   Brad Hansen,  “Illinois budget issues mean boon in Iowa lottery,”   Sophia Taureen, Ky., other states benefit from Illinois Lottery mess,”  Lexington Herald Leader. October 26, 2015, p.A6.