5 reasons why July 1 means more Illinois budget doom
This week marks what could be the most significant benchmark in the long, painful slog of Republicans' and Democrats' historic war over the Illinois budget.
Thursday is the end of a full year without a state budget -- plus another blown deadline to make a budget for the new fiscal year that starts Friday.
Several states have approved two budgets in the time Illinois has been unable to finish one.
Lawmakers are meeting Wednesday in an effort to approve a compromise, but if they don't, the consequences could be dire.
Here are five clear problems Illinoisans face as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and top Democrats who control the legislature approach this milestone.
Road projects will start shutting down Friday unless lawmakers act, the Illinois Department of Transportation says, threatening construction workers' jobs amid uncertainty about what will happen during peak summer construction season.
"A shutdown of this extent is unprecedented and presents very real economic hardship and safety concerns," a statement from the Transportation for Illinois Coalition reads. "Projects already underway will have to be shuttered in their current state, causing contingency plans to be put in place to shut down lanes of traffic and secure work that has already been started."
Threatened road projects are all across the suburbs, from Aurora's Ohio Street bridge crossing the BNSF tracks to intersection work at Irving Park and Wood Dale roads in Wood Dale to rebuilding Deerfield Road in Lake County.
IDOT, an agency controlled by Rauner, is pushing for a stopgap plan from the governor.
Social service contracts end:
A hodgepodge of federal court action and money from Washington has kept some social services in Illinois intact. Funding for others has fallen away, including Des Plaines-based Lutheran Social Services, which early this year cut 750 jobs and programs for vulnerable people.
A United Way survey suggests more than 1 million people have now lost services as a result of the state's failure to pass a budget. The new fiscal year beginning Friday means an end to the contracts some of the providers signed with the state, leaving them to wonder if they'll ever get the state money they're owed. Dozens are now in court.
"We've been told: 'They'll resolve this by Labor Day; they'll resolve this in the veto session; they'll resolve this after the (candidate) filing session in December,'" said Andrea Durbin, executive director of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, one of the groups leading the lawsuit. "It became clear to us that we cannot rely on the political process to protect us in this."
No pay for lottery winners:
Winning the Illinois Lottery could become an even worse bet beginning Friday.
Last year, winners of some prizes didn't get paid as the summer progressed because the state can't distribute those jackpots without a budget in place. Some lottery winners sued, but the state acted to ensure the payments would go out. That deal expires Thursday. An attorney for the lottery winners says he's ready to go to court again if payouts stop.
Local share shuts off:
Towns' shares of taxes from casinos, gasoline sales and video gambling in bars and restaurants won't be distributed to them after Friday.
The state will keep collecting the tax money. It just won't dish it out. Mayors have had to plan around this. But they aren't happy about it.
Pressure on schools tightens:
The end of the fiscal year Thursday probably won't cause immediate problems for schools. But the deadline creates pressure for lawmakers to approve education funding before schools open in August. Schools have been a focus in the budget fight, making them a top priority for any deal that might -- or might not -- be cut in the coming days and weeks.
Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said last month that his schools will be able to open their doors, but the lack of state money would soon cause problems.
"For us," he said, "it would be devastating."