Illinois’ budget battle continues; social programs, state workers may suffer

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois is in a state of high anxiety. The budget problems are looming and many people are fearing the worst. More people are reacting to the problem, and trying to figure out what happens now.

The state's politically conservative comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, who is responsible for paying the bills, sent something of a "reality check" to the General Assembly Thursday.

"The reason we are here today is because the General Assembly has failed to do its constitutional duty and pass a budget before the end of the fiscal year," Munger said.

The Illinois budget standoff between the Democratically-controlled legislature and Republican governor Bruce Rauner is nowhere near a resolution, and it’s clear both time and money are running out.

The comptroller says the state will pay bills incurred in fiscal year 2015, but there's a bill backlog of $5 billion. The state will also pay its debt, pension funds and retiree benefits. Local governments will receive most of their state funding, and because Rauner signed the school funding bill, schools will not be affected.

But right now, the rest of the budget is up in the air. The comptroller says she is seeking court orders to pay bills for programs that help needy families, childcare, and the elderly, mentally ill and disabled.

“Without an appropriation or a court order, we will be unable to continue payments to non-profits, social services and small businesses that are not covered,” Munger said.

Perhaps the biggest question is what happens to the tens of thousands of state employees. The comptroller says she’s working with the Attorney General to secure a court order to pay them.

"As of today, I do not have a court order to allow me to pay state employees, nor do we have an appropriation since we have no budget,” she said. “Depending on the payroll of their agencies, some might start missing pay checks as early as July 15."

Unions representing those workers asked the governor to drop his turnaround agenda for business-friendly reforms, and sign the budget.

“He's marching down a road trying to hold up his agenda by holding hostage those most vulnerable in the state of Illinois,” said Stephen Mittons, president of AFSCME Local 2081.

"He's supposed to be the governor of the entire state of Illinois, not delivering pain," said Fran Tobin of Alliance for Community Services.

A spokesperson for Rauner said in a written statement: “Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls failed to produce a balanced budget in favor of protecting the political class. Governor Rauner has been willing to compromise for months on transformational reforms to grow the economy and protect the middle class."

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8 comments

  • Tanzo

    Oh god these crybabies! This is not Rauner’s fault. They need to be pointing the finger at Madigan and all the democratic cronies who don’t know what a budget is and just keep raising taxes on those who actually go and bust their butt for a living and not expecting a HANDOUT! Thank god for Rauner! I cringe at where we would be if Fatty Quinn got elected

  • Edward Douglas

    Let’s be extremely clear what happens here: government (federal, state, local), play games. When these shutdowns happen, the lying thieves in government shutdown the programs that have the greatest impact, to force public outrage to restore funding. Is the non essential programs and waste on the table to be cut? Absolutely not. It’s a game people your elected criminals play with you.

    They think they are smart and you are stupid. In many aspects of their assumption, they are correct.

  • Wanting to move out of IIllinois

    This is a complete mess. It is unfortunate that no one in charge is able to compromise on a balanced budget, or pass a temporary budget. I’m sorry everyone who feels that paying 2% more in state taxes would be catastrophic. They should at least pass a temporary, 1-2 month tax increase, so that state programs can continue until the lawmakers can reach a resolution. Not only will the lack of a budget stop government programs to needy people, but people paid by the state who go to work everyday will also not get paid. For many workers who work in these programs that help those in need, people are told they must continue to work, although they will not get paid for an indefinite period of time. For those of you who have no concern for these people, it is a serious problem for many, who are employed and working, and could easily lose their home, car, etc. Hopefully, the lack of a budget will also lead to those in top government positions to also have their paychecks stopped…..that would make them take some action immediately, I’m sure. Unfortunately, our governor doesn’t need an income, so it probably wouldn’t have enough of an impact to pass a fair or decent budget, at least on a temporary basis.

  • mark

    “The comptroller says the state will pay bills incurred in fiscal year 2015, but there’s a bill backlog of $5 billion. The state will also pay its debt, pension funds and retiree benefits. Local governments will receive most of their state funding, and because Rauner signed the school funding bill, schools will not be affected.”
    Pensions get paid first. Services are not the mission of government anymore. Pensions are.

  • D

    I am completely pissed off at both Republicans and Democrats. This is some of the same foolish behavior that has gotten Illinois in trouble in the first place. I’m sick of the show boating and the whole political arena.

  • Lori

    Let’s just thank God that you were entitled to your opinion Tanzo. Actually the crying babies will be the ones who don’t have their special formula or milk due to the WIC cuts. These are real BABIES. Also, I work for a state center that helps people with disabilities. I personally work MY butt off every day and haven’t seen any cry babies lately only real people who need help. Since you apparently don’t need help nor will you be out of a job in two weeks and I doubt if you will be hungry, why don’t you go thank God for your blessings and pray you always are so fortunate to have everything you need?

  • Patricia camp

    I am a widow of 3 years, I have a 40 year old autistic non verbal son that I’m a sole caretaker of my son. I have used the respite EPIC program in Peoria at least 1 or 2 weeks a year to give me a break. Now they had to close the doors because the budget has not been signed. We need to get this facility back opened. I’m not the only one who have used this facility.