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State Capitol's Electricity Could Be Shut Off Thanks To Budget Impasse

By Kate Shepherd in News on Sep 29, 2015 5:43PM

Photo credit: Ann Hilton Fisher

Illinois' state budget crisis just got even more real. Electricity and utilities in the Capitol and other state government facilities are in danger of being shut off because of late payments due to the months-long budget standoff, according to the AP.

Secretary of State Jesse White wrote Gov. Bruce Rauner a letter last week outlining the potential issues arising from the state's late payments including: electricity being shut off, trash pick-up stopping and critical computer and software vendors and the armored trucks that remove cash from facilities all threatening to discontinue service.

"Unfortunately, my office is getting to the point where our bills are no longer being paid, and this will directly impact office services to the people," White wrote. "The situation has grown critical, and we are seeking a solution to this problem."

Rauner and the legislature have not been able to agree upon a budget so the state has been running without one since July 1. Some state money can be spent through laws and court orders but there isn't authority to make many payments including electricity and big lottery winnings.

There's not much hope that the budget crisis will be solved anytime soon. It's "highly unlikely" that the state will reach a budget deal before the end of 2015, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told Politico. Legislative leaders and Rauner haven't met since May and the House only has two more session days scheduled this year.

Democrats agree that an agreement is unlikely this year.

"There is zero sign that we're moving toward a resolution by the end of the year," Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman to Senate President John Cullerton, told Politico.

The longer Illinois goes without a budget, the more serious the situation becomes. For example, police training classes across the state have been canceled due to lack of budget funds. Local departments have been forced to cancel necessary trainings on everything from proper use of force to dealing with the mentally ill, according to the AP.

"The situation is becoming desperate," Eric Pingolt, who coordinates police training for 11 counties for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, told the AP.

White also announced Monday that his office will have to stop sending reminders for vehicle registration renewals to the public because of the impasse, according to NBC.

The governor's office is willing to find solutions to the operational problems and hopes that White will encourage his friends in the legislature to pass a budget, Rauner spokeswoman Lindsey Walters told the AP.