Another fiscal year ends with no budget

03 July, 2017, 01:30 | Author: Lorraine Moran
  • Illinois Lawmakers Rush to Pass Budget to Avoid Junk Credit Rating			AP		by Katherine Rodriguez3 Jul 20170		3 Jul 2017		3 Jul 2017

House Democrats are advancing legislation this week created to get a budget deal by appeasing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on the tangential issues he's demanded. Should they lead to a deal, the General Assembly will be in session Saturday to take action (the House will convene at 11 a.m., the Senate at 2 p.m.).

The state legislature, facing a massive budget crisis, was unable to reach a spending deal before the new fiscal year began on Saturday - marking the third year in a row that IL has started without a full budget. The test vote passed 90-25 in the House.

The deadline is important because credit rating agencies have threatened to downgrade the state's creditworthiness - this time to "junk" status - if a budget isn't in place before the start of the next fiscal year.

The fiscal morass is the longest of any state since at least the Great Depression, with IL ringing up a $6.2 billion annual deficit and a $14.7 billion stack of past-due bills. Without a budget, the state enters risky territory: Some universities may not be able to offer federal financial aid, road construction and Powerball ticket sales could halt, and the state's credit rating could be downgraded to "junk".

IL already has the lowest credit rating of any USA state, and it owes more than $15 billion in late payments to vendors — including doctors who provide health care to state employees and social service agencies that care for disabled people. But it likely a measure that was earlier negotiated in the Senate that includes an increase in the personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

"Probably no one is going to be happy with the solutions, but it certainly points us in the right direction, and that's what I've been saying all along is you've got to give people stability".

Democrats in the Illinois House say they'll try to pass a state budget Friday. It would raise about $5 billion.

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Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford of Chicago believes the state should spend more on social services, but he suggested Rauner "take this as a victory in driving down spending in the state of IL". He said there would be a vote on the House floor Sunday on a plan "modeled on the bill supported" by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Republicans say they supported the Democratic spending plan as a show of good faith.

Rauner has also not been present at negotiating meetings.

If the spending bill and tax increases fail to pass, Democrats have a backup plan to vote on a series of emergency spending bills.

Cardenas said the lack of a budget affects the state's roads and traffic lights, because there's no money to fix them.

In retrospect, a bipartisan vote in the House on Friday to move a $36.5 billion spending plan to passage stage appears to have been little more than a performance meant to justify asking the rating agencies to hold off a few more days. Along with a property tax freeze, the Republican wants to restrict costs in programs for injured workers and state-employee pensions.

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