With budget negotiations halted in Springfield, it seems unlikely that Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s top legislative leaders will be able to reach a new deal before the current stopgap spending plan expires at the end of the year.
But what does that mean for Illinois residents?
The good news is, a large portion of the state’s spending will continue to be covered through court orders and consent decrees. In addition, elementary and secondary education have been funded through June.
Although many vital state functions will still be funded, health and human services and higher education will likely continue to suffer without a budget, which means some of the most vulnerable Illinoisans will be hit hardest by a prolonged impasse.
In April, Chicago State University was forced to lay off more than 300 employees as a result of the state’s budget crisis. The school now faces a year-end deficit and could be forced to make further cuts, according to the Chicago Tribune. Additionally, funding for Monetary Award Program grants expires at the end of the year, which could result in students losing tuition assistance.
Lutheran Social Services, the state’s largest provider of social services, announced they would cut 30 programs and 750 jobs as a result of the impasse. Other groups, like Catholic Charities, have also been affected by the ongoing stalemate.
However, a comprehensive budget deal between Gov. Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan remains elusive, as it has throughout the governor’s first two years in office.
Rauner has made it clear that he won’t consider a new temporary budget unless it includes reforms from his turnaround agenda, like term limits and a property tax freeze. The governor halted negotiations earlier this month after House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois Democrats failed to put forth a budget proposal.
"The Governor and the Republican leaders remain ready to negotiate on a balanced budget with reforms to grow jobs, lower property taxes, improve schools and implement term limits," Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement earlier this month. "However, Democrative leaders continue to discuss internally whether they are prepared to present a budget proposal, so we will schedule the next Four Leaders meeting when we receive confirmation that they are ready."
Madigan’s office claimed Tuesday that the onus is on Rauner to propose a budget.
“[Rauner’s] indicated he’s gotten some idea, that while he’s the guy who is spending the money and will determine how much he wants to spend, that somebody else should give him a plan,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told Ward Room. “That’s totally illogical, but that’s all that’s been happening.”
While it is Rauner’s constitutional duty to submit a balanced budget to the General Assembly by the third Wednesday in February, the legislature has the power to make decisions on appropriations and taxes. However, Brown claimed the two sides haven’t discussed revenue increases, like a potential income tax hike.
“The speaker’s said for nearly two years, it needs to be a balance between cuts and revenue, but we’ve never gotten beyond that,” Brown said. “And don’t plan to, frankly, at this point.”
Brown also reiterated Democrat’s desire to reestablish working groups, something Rauner has opposed. Brown said working groups were needed on a series of matters, including workers’ compensation and government consolidation.
Next month, Madigan is up for reelection as house speaker. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly framed the election as a pivotal decision for Illinois Democrats Friday.
"Members of the majority will face a clear choice when they return to Springfield: reach a bipartisan balanced budget with reforms or support Speaker Madigan's status quo of crisis and higher taxes without any reforms to our broken system," Kelly said in a statement. "Governor Rauner will continue working with both sides of the aisle to reach a truly balanced budget with structural reforms."