A look at the impacts of Illinois' budget impasse
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is delivering his second State of the State address Wednesday during one of the most tumultuous times for Illinois in recent history.
The seven-month budget standoff with Democrats who control the Legislature has caused cuts to social service and higher-education programs and plunged the state further into debt. Neither side is budging. Democrats say a tax increase is necessary to close a multibillion budget hole. Rauner maintains he won't support a tax increase without reforms he wants, including imposing term limits, limiting the power of unions and making it easier for businesses to operate in Illinois.
While the stalemate continues, here's a look at its consequences.
SOCIAL SAFETY NET PROGRAMS
Homeless shelters, mental help counseling and in-home care for seniors are among the 30 programs Lutheran Social Services is closing because of $6 million in overdue bills from the state, the 149-year-old agency announced Friday. The agency also is laying off 750 employees - about 43 percent of its staff. The programs closing served 4,700 people.
Around the state, hundreds of human services agencies have made cuts and the future looks dire, according to a survey released Tuesday by the United Way of Illinois. It found that 85 percent of 444 agencies it queried this month have reduced the number of clients they serve since July, when the state's annual budget should've taken effect. The agencies provide an array of services, including emergency housing, aid for disabled children, home-delivered meals for seniors and employment training.
Chicago advocates pushed lawmakers ahead of Wednesday's address to consider long-term impacts. Erie Neighborhood House, which helps low-income families, laid off staff and cut technology and afterschool programs affecting at least 250 people.
"In this time in our city, in our state, those children, those youth and those adults need to have a place to be able to go," said executive director Celena Roldan.
SUPPORT FOR COLLEGES
Colleges, universities and their students have also been harmed. This week, Eastern Illinois University was the latest to feel the repercussions from the budget deadlock, with school President David Glassman telling employees in a letter there will be delays in maintenance and repairs, cuts to all non-instructional equipment purchases, and no reimbursement for travel. Glassman said in the letter that layoffs and furloughs are possible.
At Chicago State University, a predominantly black school on Chicago's South Side, officials announced last week they don't have money to pay employees.
Meanwhile, low-income students who rely on the Illinois' Monetary Award Program grants to pay tuition won't be getting that help this spring.
Even without a budget, the state has continued to operate - and spend - because of court orders to keep some essential services running. That's increasing the state's debt because the spending is based on revenue levels from last year, when the individual Illinois income tax rate was at 5 percent, not the current rate of 3.75 percent. A recent report from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget says if the current spending levels continue without new taxes or the Legislature cutting spending the deficit for the fiscal year ending in June will be $4.6 billion.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN SPEECH
Despite the generally dismal assessments, Rauner said this week that his speech will cover the "many, many important achievements" of the past year, as well as Illinois' challenges. Rauner also said he will lay out his game plan for the next 12 months.
Expect the governor to take another shot at pushing a plan backed by Democratic Senate President John Cullerton to fix Illinois' $111 billion pension crisis. Last week, Rauner suggested he'd reached an agreement with Cullerton on a plan that included curbing labor union bargaining power - something Cullerton strongly denied.
Rauner also will focus on steps he's taking to make government more efficient, such as improving Illinois' 1970s-era computer systems by consolidating all agencies' information technology functions into one department.
Associated Press writers John O'Connor in Springfield and Sara Burnett and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.