After Illinois lawmakers failed to pass a budget before the end of the spring legislative session Tuesday night, it’s clear that the state’s lingering impasse will likely stretch into its second year. But what does that mean for Illinoisans?
So far, the state’s colleges, universities and social services have been among the hardest hit by the stalemate, which dates back to July of last year. With no funding appropriated and no budget solution in sight, schools across the state may not be able to open in the fall. And if the impasse continues, already cash-strapped social service agencies and not-for-profit programs will continue to be strained and could be forced to close or lay off workers.
Democrats pushed a K-12 education funding plan through the Senate Tuesday, but it was shot down by the House just before the midnight deadline. The bill mirrored the plan in House Speaker Mike Madigan’s out-of-balance budget proposal. Madigan’s bill was rejected by the Senate Tuesday evening after passing the House last week.
Rauner also introduced a stopgap K-12 education funding measure Tuesday evening. However, the Illinois Constitution requires legislative proposals be read three times on three separate days, meaning it was not eligible to be voted on before the session’s deadline.
During a speech, Rauner blamed Democrats and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, for holding out for a $1 billion “bailout” for Chicago Public Schools.
“They don’t want schools to open in the fall unless Chicago gets a bailout,” Rauner said. “President Cullerton said it publicly, he admitted it publicly.”
Rauner also introduced an additional stopgap measure looked to fund some of the state's essential services, like the university system, healthcare services and correctional institutions through January. On Tuesday, Rauner noted that Cullerton had told him that Democrats were holding out on voting on reforms until after November's general election, so the bill would serve as a stopgap until serious discussions resume.
The state’s public colleges and universities have been hit hard by the impasse, despite a partial funding measure signed in April.
As a result of the impasse, Chicago State University cancelled its spring break and moved up its commencement ceremonies. Before Rauner signed the partial funding bill into law, the school was on the verge of closing. Days after the bill was signed, CSU announced layoffs of over 300 employees.
CSU and other state universities could be forced to make additional cuts and layoffs if money isn’t appropriated before the fall semester.
Illinois’ social service agencies are already hurting from the lack of state funding. As a result, a group of Illinois-based human and social service agencies and companies filed a lawsuit against Rauner and members of his administration in May seeking payment for over $100 million. An early-childhood-education nonprofit led by the governor’s wife, Diana Rauner, joined the lawsuit later in the month.
If a settlement or budget deal is not reached, groups will continue to suffer. Without state funds appropriated, schools may not open and a prolonged impasse could result in additional jobs and programs being cut by health and social service providers.