Sticking to their core competency, Illinois legislators are desperately trying to kick the can of Illinois’s fiscal problems one month down the road:
The financially troubled state of Illinois edged closer on Tuesday to a government shutdown as Democratic lawmakers and the Republican governor failed to resolve a budget impasse ahead of a midnight deadline.
Veteran House Speaker Michael Madigan said he would present an emergency one-month budget on Wednesday to keep essential services operating, but Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, in office since January, has signaled he would not accept such a measure.
“This is another opportunity to not shut down the government,” Madigan told reporters.
Also on Tuesday, the Chicago Public Schools made a $634 million state-mandated payment to its teachers’ pension fund beating a midnight deadline, according to a fund official.
Madigan said the payment eliminated the need for legislation that would have given the cash-strapped district another 40 days. School administrators did not say how they came up with the funds for the huge payment that had become the latest in the recurring fiscal crises rocking Illinois and its biggest city, Chicago.
Illinois has the worst-funded pension system and the lowest credit ratings among the 50 states, and one credit rating agency has assigned junk-bond status to Chicago.
Madigan said his $2.26 billion temporary state budget will fund services including Medicaid, corrections, state police and childcare.
Rauner, who last week vetoed most of a $36.3 billion budget passed by Democrats, has said he would not accept a temporary fiscal 2016 budget.
Speaker of the Illinois House Madigan and Illinois Senate President Cullerton don’t need the governor’s cooperation to pass a budget. They just don’t want to bear the political heat alone or, possibly, at all. They’d much prefer blaming it on the governor.