May 30 – From the State Capitol: With one day left to go in the regular Spring Session of the legislature, and a pending deadline to pass a new state budget by midnight on May 31, the legislative leaders coming out of a meeting on Monday with Gov Rauner gave little reason to believe there would be any agreement.
Speaking with reporters, Speaker Madigan said “House Democrats would not hold hostage people seeking an education, needing healthcare, the most vulnerable in our society.”
Which means, the Speaker is not budging from the $40 Billion Budget the House Democrats passed last Wednesday, which offers no accommodation to any of the reforms sought by Gov Rauner.
Underscoring the Democrat Leaders are not looking to consider any of the Governor’s reforms, Senate President Cullerton referred to the Governor’s reforms as “vague notions of improving the business climate.”
With the deadline for passing a new FY 2017 Budget looming, and little chance of a break through, Speaker Madigan said he would direct the bipartisan working groups of lawmakers to continue working, and that the House will stay in “Continuous Session” while meeting every Wednesday in June, beginning next week, June 8.
When Republican Leaders met the press, following the leaders meeting with the governor, Sen Radogno and House Leader Durkin, offered no hope of any last minute breakthrough in a budget deal. Rep Durkin told the press, It is increasingly clear the Democratic Leaders aren’t concerned with meeting the deadline of passing a budget by tomorrow night.
Then she suggested, the Democrats will pass a massive tax increase to fund their $7 Billion deficit budget.
And as if Illinois politics and government wasn’t depressing enough, she said she feared the state’s K-12 education would not be funded, and schools unable to open in the fall, unless a “clean education funding bill is passed.”
In an effort to at least fund K-12, and allow the schools to open in the fall, Rep Jim Durkin introduced HB-6583, which would fund the schools, and adds an increase of $105 million to ensure that no school district would lose funding from last year’s budget — the one part of the FY 2016 budget that was signed into law. Rep Durkin’s bill would also send $1.8 million to fund agricultural education, one of the ideas that came from the working group discussions.
But it is unclear if Democrat legislative leaders are interested in passing a separate funding bill for K-12 schools. Quickly passing a bill to fund schools would be possible, if lawmakers wanted to do so, and that’s one area to look for some potential bipartisan effort on Tuesday.
If a budget is passed prior to the deadline of May 31, it requires a simple majority. But any budget passed after the end of May requires a supermajority, which means Republican votes would then required for passage. And after holding out for a year, Republican lawmakers are not going to agree to a budget deal that does not include some of the reforms they’ve demanded. None of the Republicans voted for the $40 Billion budget passed by House Democrats last week.
The budget passed by the House last week, has yet to pass the Senate, but Gov Rauner already been promised to veto it, if it reaches his desk. Of course, this is a replay of last year, in which the Gov vetoed the FY 2016 budget, that was $4 Billion in deficit. The fact that the state has not had a budget for the last 12 months, has caused a growing backlog of unpaid bills which noW totals around $7 Billion, according to State Comptroller Leslie Munger.
A leading health insurer to the state is owed an estimated $700 million in payments. Illinois hospitals are owed approximate $2 Billion in unpaid bills.
In addition to vendors not being paid, it’s likely that a number of state-funded colleges and universities will be either unable to open their doors this fall, or will not have the funds to continue to operate through the full year.
Sen Radogno added, that “Every day we go without passing a budget, costs Illinois taxpayers an additional $13 million.”
Gov Rauner and Republican Legislative leaders have said they are willing to vote for a tax increase, but not without some reforms, that will bring some relief to Illinois businesses, such as lowering the higher cost of workers’ compensation insurance in the state, which is higher than the vast majority of other states.
So in all likelihood, the deadline for passing a FY 2017 budget, which is midnight on May 31, will come and go… and barring some collapse in either side’s position… Illinois may not have a budget passed until long after the summer is over, and Christmas shopping season has begun.