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Budget Impasse Could Force State Government Shutdown

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 29, 2015 7:20PM

Photo credit: John Gress/Getty Images

With just days left to pass a state budget, Illinois could be facing a government shutdown on Wednesday if Governor Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers can’t come to an agreement on how to move the state forward fiscally. Last week, Rauner vetoed a $36.3 billion budget passed by state legislators, saying that it was $4 billion out of balance.

Rauner said in a statement, published by the Sun-Times:

“For too long, the State of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost-deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors.”

Rauner and his Republican allies in the legislature who have been pushing for a “business-friendly” budget are trying to lay the impasse and any potential shutdown at the feet of state Democrats. “Illinois continues to lose jobs,” Republican State Senator Dave Syverson told WIFR in Rockford. “We continue to lose people and the governor and we agree that you have to change the jobs climate and then let's pass a true balanced budget.”

Democrats in the legislature however, say that Rauner’s fiscal plan includes too many cuts to vital services, and have been displeased by his strong arm tactics, which they say would cripple workers rights. Though Rauner has made a handful of concessions from his initial extreme conservative proposals, he’s still looking for a freeze in property taxes, changes to workers compensation and term-limits and more controls on contract negations with unions.

To show how a shutdown could impact Illinoisans, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan plans to hold hearings this week in the House. In a statement provided to Capitol Fax, the Speaker said:

“We asked a number of agency directors to come before the House to give us answers to very specific questions about the impact of a shutdown. We’re looking forward to hearing from Governor Rauner’s agency directors on their plans if a government shutdown occurs, particularly their strategy for meeting the needs of those requiring services and how they plan to address continuity of care for individuals who will suffer as a result of services no longer being provided.”

Some 15 directors from state agencies have been invited for the hearings.

“Each day that passes without action by the governor creates unnecessary disruption and anxiety in every region of the state,” Madigan said in a statement.

If a shutdown begins Wednesday however, it might take a little while before the effects are felt statewide. According to the Rockford Register Star, many agencies will still continue operating. Some agencies have contingency plans in place, and business as usual will still continue at prisons and DMVs, though the Comptroller’s office will not issue checks for bills submitted after Wednesday.

A prolonged shutdown would have dire consequences for certain agencies and social service providers.

“You’ve watched human services get decimated since 2009,” said Judith Gethner, executive director of Illinois Partners for Human Service. “You know they’ve exhausted lines of credit. “How many payrolls can they make without having the budget passed?”