Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Thursday warned hardship caused by the state’s ongoing budget impasse will grow significantly if Illinois enters a new fiscal year on July 1 without further action in Springfield.
While court orders, consent decrees and statutory authorization of some payments will continue, Munger noted $23 billion in existing spending for schools, 911 call centers, domestic violence shelters, federally funded social and human services and higher education will stop next month without new legislation. In addition, businesses and organizations that have signed contracts and provided services to the state this year face the possibility of having to go to court to be paid in the absence of a stopgap budget.
“Our social service network is being torn apart, our most vulnerable residents are losing critical services, our colleges and universities are on the verge of collapse, and businesses and organizations are being forced into mass layoffs that are leaving families with no way to meet their financial obligations,” Munger said. “All of this is happening because of the state’s failure to pass a budget. It’s unconscionable, it’s irresponsible and frankly, it violates our Constitution.”
Munger highlighted four budget bills passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor that will sunset in the new fiscal year. The legislation authorized spending that included:
- $13.7 billion for K-12 education
- $3.1 billion that funded local governments, 911 call centers, domestic violence shelters, lottery winners and other programs and services
- $5.4 billion in federal spending including the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, child nutrition programs, HIV prevention and home-delivered meals for seniors
- $600 million for colleges, universities and MAP grants
Compounding Illinois’ challenges, Munger noted businesses that have provided goods and services to the state in good faith in the current fiscal year will continue to go unpaid without legislation in Springfield. Typically, unpaid vendors would go before the Court of Claims to compel payment, but without an appropriation that court is not an option. As a result, the state faces the possibility of a wave of costly lawsuits.
“The best thing Springfield can do is pass a balanced budget that addresses the holes in this year’s budget and allows for those who rely on government to plan for the year ahead, as is required by the state Constitution,” Munger said. “And at the very least, our state owes it to its taxpayers to pass funding that allows our schools to open, ensures vendors are paid for services already provided and keeps critical state government operations running.”