April 19, 2007

Noted economist to discuss Illinois' fiscal crisis

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Economics expert J. Fred Giertz will lecture on "Illinois' Structural Deficit Problem: Causes and Options" at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, in the Student Center Auditorium at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Giertz will explain the financial crisis Illinois is facing, why it happened and options the state might consider to deal with the problems. He will also focus on the Gross Tax Receipts proposal presented by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and the possible implications it could have for local businesses. Giertz also will discuss state pension funding.

Professor Sajal Lahiri, who holds the endowed Vandeveer Chair in the Department of Economics, invited Giertz to campus. The endowment allows Lahiri to invite guests for annual Vandeveer Chair lectures.

"The idea is to bring a famous economist who can talk to non-experts," Lahiri said.

The focus of recent Vandeveer lectures was international economics, Lahiri said. This year, though, a local issue seemed appropriate.

Giertz is executive director of the National Tax Association, and is a professor in the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He compiles the institute's Flash Index, a monthly indicator of the Illinois economy.