The 2017 regular session of the Illinois Legislature ended on May 31 with no budget for Governor Rauner to consider. The governor called the General Assembly in for a special session to finish and send him a budget. They started meeting the last ten days of June to negotiate an FY 2018 budget, revenue bill, and reform issues the Governor has demanded–property taxes, workers’ compensation, education, and state office term limits.
State Credit and the Unpaid Bills
Illinois has been warned by the credit rating agencies that it will be downgraded to “junk” status if no budget and revenue bills are passed by the end of the fiscal year, July 30. Ratings equate to the value of Illinois bonds, so another downgrade could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
But beyond the credit rating outcome, there is much more at stake for Illinois and its citizens. With $14 billion in unpaid bills, the economic collapse of many large and small employers in the private sector, both for-profit and non-profit, hang in the balance. If a budget is not passed with accompanying revenue, many more will close their doors and lay off employees.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
As of this writing, members of both chambers and caucuses continue to meet to hammer out agreed bills. Earlier today, a majority of House Republicans lead by Leader Jim Durkin voted with House Democrats on an omnibus spending plan to keep hope alive. The House will reconvene Saturday at 11 a.m. Negotiations are on-going. Speaker Madigan sent a letter to Standard and Poor’s requesting a delay in the state bond rating.