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."