10 facts about Illinois’ budget showdown

Jeffrey Schwab

Jeffrey Schwab is a senior attorney with the Liberty Justice Center.

Jeffrey Schwab
July 1, 2015

10 facts about Illinois’ budget showdown

The new fiscal year has started, and Illinois doesn’t have a state budget. Now what?

The Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a balanced budget for the new fiscal year, which starts on July 1. That means the state cannot spend money on any programs or services requiring an annual appropriation. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what this means, with predictions ranging from “most people won’t notice” to “Armageddon.”

Here are 10 things Illinoisans can expect as the state moves into the new fiscal year without a balanced budget:

  1. No matter what stays open and what shuts down, state lawmakers will still get paid. State lawmakers will receive their paychecks no matter what happens or how long this budget impasse lasts. That’s because in 2014, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton worked together to introduce and pass a law ensuring legislator salaries and operating expenses would be paid even if a balanced budget was not passed on time.
  1. Without a state budget, there is the threat of a state government “shut down.” But operations won’t halt immediately. For most state programs and services, funds must be appropriated by the state on an annual basis through a budget. Without a budget, these programs and services will not receive funds from the state. However, that doesn’t mean these programs and services will immediately cease. Most will be able to withstand missing a payment or two without too much of an issue, recognizing that the state will likely appropriate money for those programs or services eventually. And vendors that provide state services already are paid months behind schedule, so they will keep receiving checks for services provided prior to July 1.
  1. Schools will start on time. Rauner signed a bill on June 24 that ensures public schools are funded in fiscal year 2016, meaning students will be back in school on time even if the state fails to adopt a balanced budget.
  1. Pension and debt payments can still be made. Pension and debt payments are continuing appropriations and by law do not need to be appropriated on an annual basis.
  1. Essential services will continue. Services essential for the safety and welfare of the people of Illinois will continue. State police will continue working and state prisons will remain open and operational.
  1. Local-government operations will continue. Cities, towns and villages will continue to receive their share of state income, sales and motor-fuel taxes.
  1. Federal programs will continue. Programs funded or operated by the federal government will generally not be affected.
  1. State parks, museums and casinos will remain open in the short term, but could close eventually.
  1. Eventually, people who rely on state services will feel the pain. While some programs and services may be able to continue at least temporarily, the lack of state funding for some programs and services will have an effect on many Illinoisans. Funding for Medicaid, addiction services, child care services, rehab and the senior meal program funds will all cease. Providers of such services have been kept afloat by expedited payments from the state, and when such payments stop, these providers may choose to stop providing these services.
  1. Illinoisans will still have to pay taxes.

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