Illinois budget woes reignite with
spending deal's imminent lapse
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2017]
By Dave McKinney
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois is poised to
re-enter a budgetary limbo on Sunday with the expiration of temporary
spending authority for the state's cash-strapped universities and
fraying human services network.
Political feuding between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrats
who control the state legislature has left the nation's fifth-largest
state without a full-year operating budget for 18 months.
The impasse eased last June when both sides agreed to a six-month
funding fix, but that stopgap lapses on Sunday and budget talks have
Despite the impending funding stop, some services are unlikely to be
disrupted. These include public schools, prisons, healthcare for the
poor and court-ordered services for the disabled and for wards of the
state. Also expected to continue are payments for debt service and
But grants for needy college students and funding for public
universities will cease, forcing students like Tamia Polk, a 20-year-old
psychology major at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, to
agree to make payments of $250 per month while her $5,000 Monetary Award
Program grant goes unpaid by the state.
"In college you’re already stressed about classes and things, but
there’s this other factor of not getting the money I was promised and
the school is not allowing me to register unless I sign up for a payment
plan I can’t pay for," said Polk, who holds two part-time jobs and is
two semesters from graduating.
Additionally, private vendors who offer mental health services,
addiction treatment, in-home care for the elderly and breast and
cervical cancer screenings, among other things, will stop receiving
state reimbursements after Sunday.
[to top of second column]
Since taking office in January 2015, Rauner has refused to approve a
budget unless the legislature agrees to pass a business-friendly
package that would make it harder for injured workers to be
compensated, freeze property taxes, impose legislative term limits
and weaken collective bargaining rights for union members.
But Democrats have stymied Rauner at every turn.
“Dismantling collective bargaining rights in this state is a
non-starter for Democrats,” said state Representative Greg Harris, a
Chicago Democrat whom Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has
anointed as his budget point person.
But a Rauner aide insisted no spending deal could be struck without
“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,” Rauner spokeswoman
Catherine Kelly said.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.