CHICAGO (CBS) — With the state nearing two full years without a full budget, government watchdog groups and social service agencies urged lawmakers not to leave Springfield until they come up with a deal to end the impasse.
The Illinois General Assembly’s spring session ends in less than a week, and the new fiscal year starts in July, but so far, there is no end in sight to the two-year budget stalemate.
Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said the state’s credit rating has become “a national embarrassment” as a result, plunging to nearly junk status over the last several years.
“We cannot have the nonsense of not having a budget. Forty-nine other states would never try this experiment,” he said.
Many social service providers have shut down or severely cut back programming as state payments have been significantly delayed.
“Home visiting programs to strengthen children’s health and the family unit; cut. Affordable child care; cut. Supportive housing; cut,” Voices for Illinois Children president Tasha Green Cruzat said.
Senate Democrats have passed a budget package that would raise income taxes and expand the sales tax, but it faces an uncertain fate in the House, and even if it passes, a likely veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner without a property tax freeze.
“The citizens of Illinois have been victimized by a collective failure of leadership in Springfield that has left us with a government that is both destructive and dysfunctional,” Better Government Association CEO Andy Shaw said. “One of the reasons this has gone on for almost two years is there’s no real blood in the water. There are a lot of victims, but no one victimized badly enough to force leadership into action.”
MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, said lawmakers shouldn’t leave Springfield until they pass a full balanced budget.
“We don’t want you to come home with half measures. We don’t want to see you at our Memorial Day parades. Please stay there to do your job,” she said.