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The blame game is alive and well with the Illinois budget impasse
The Illinois budget impasse taking a toll on Illinoisans, but both sides see it as a chance to gain in this year’s elections.
After an impasse that left Illinois without an operating budget for all of fiscal year 2016, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly staved off disaster on June 30 when they passed an emergency plan to fund state government through Dec. 31.
The deal kept road projects functioning and allowed schools to open on time – and it let politicians hit the campaign trail with some semblance of a budget in place — but it also set the state up to end the calendar in the worst financial shape in its history.
As the state began its third month under the stopgap plan, Moody’s Investors Service took stock of just how bad things likely will get for Illinois and, ultimately, the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for the debt now piling up.
With spending now outpacing revenue by 12 percent, Moody’s estimates Illinois could close out the calendar year with a record $14 billion backlog of unpaid bills.
The official number as September dawned was $8.1 billion.
Yet as public colleges and social service providers struggle to survive amid unprecedented funding cuts, leaders on both sides of the budget debate have exploited the situation for political advantage.
Illinois still doesn’t have a true budget, and there’s no guarantee it’ll have one when the stopgap plan expires on New Year’s Eve.
But it may have a new state slogan, courtesy of its leaders: “It’s not my fault.”
In calling a Special Session to determine whether Illinois would hold a special election for Comptroller, House Speaker Mike Madigan, once again, played batter, pitcher and umpire on the sandlot…
illinois budget impasse
Moody's Investors Services
Matthew Dietrich is editor of Reboot Illinois. Dietrich is the former editorial page editor of the State Journal Register in Springfield, where he earned awards including being named 2011 editorial writer of the year by GateHouse Media. His 25-year newspaper career included reporting at the Hudson Dispatch in Union City, N.J., the New York Post and The Capital Times of Madison, Wis. A graduate of Saint Louis University who holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dietrich lives in Springfield with his wife and four children and splits time between Springfield and Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at@MattReboot. For perspective on Dietrich's thoughts on Illinois government, read his take on the leadership vacuum that sent Illinois sinking. Follow him on Twitter at @rebootillinois.