budget impasse

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An Illinois county coroner's practice of holding remains and death certificates of the indigent until their families can pay for burial is "disgusting behavior," state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Tuesday.

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

The question may sound simple, but the answer, like most things in state government, is complicated.

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The Illinois Department of Corrections says a major cash crunch has it struggling to keep its facilities running.

The warning came Wednesday at a Senate budget hearing. But some Democratic lawmakers say that was the first time they were hearing the situation was so dire.

On a summer day in 2016, state prison officials were on the brink of a crisis at Western Illinois Correctional Center.

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Higher-education leaders are watching Springfield closely as lawmakers consider what to do about next year’s budget.

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn says there are lots of political options on the table.
 

CANDIDATES' CAMPAIGNS

How would contenders for the state's top legal office have handled the budget stalemate?

One of the limitations of modern political debates is that candidates are usually only asked what they'll do. But in this era of political dysfunction and governmental obstruction, it can be just as important to know what a candidate might choose not to do.

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

A national study of state government budgeting gives Illinois low marks.  

It's no surprise to see Illinois fare poorly when it comes to finances.  A two year budget impasse created even more problems.

"It's hard to gauge the success of the budget in Illinois when you didn't have one," said Bill Glasgall with the non-partisan Volcker Alliance, which conducted the analysis titled "Truth And Integrity In State Budgeting: What is The Reality?"

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Five DeKalb-area panelists took part in an Illinois Issues discussion earlier this week about the effects of the two-year Illinois budget impasse and the state’s financial future. That’s the subject of this week's WNIJ Friday Forum.

Illinois was without a state budget for two years. That ended in early July when lawmakers overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto.  It was a huge relief to schools, social service agencies, and programs that rely on state funding. But celebrations were tempered by the reality of the state’s fiscal situation.

Gov. Rauner Authorizes State Borrowing Plan

Sep 13, 2017
Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is authorizing a major borrowing plan to pay down part of the state’s nearly $15 billion backlog of bills.

Lawmakers approved a state budget over Rauner’s veto earlier this summer, which called for borrowing $6 billion. Rauner waited about two months to authorize that borrowing, racking up even more late fees for all the unpaid bills.

 

In an interview with WBEZ, Rauner said the budget still is not balanced, but he wants to bring discipline to the state’s finances.

Even though a state budget was finally passed earlier this summer, the process for paying allocated funds is not automatic. Social service agencies are waiting for money owed to them by the state.

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Illinois has tapped nearly $700 million in existing funds to make the first payment to colleges and universities they've received in seven months.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the payment Thursday.

It includes $327 million owed for the needs-based Monetary Award Program for 110,000 college students for the past school year.

The Democrat made the announcement in Charleston. She presented a nearly $6 million payment to Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman.

Gov. Rauner Aims To Send Message With Staff Shakeup

Jul 13, 2017
NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner failed to get much of his budget requests in the recent legislative session. Now there's fallout in the top ranks of his administration.  

Less than a week after the legislature overrode the governor's vetoes -- passing a budget and tax increase -- Rauner dismissed his Chief of Staff, Communications Director and others.  

A credit ratings agency has removed Illinois from a credit watch since legislators approved a budget and ended a more than two-year impasse.

S&P Global Ratings said Wednesday the outlook on debt ratings is stable. 

Illinois has the lowest credit rating of any state and agencies had warned of another downgrade to “junk'' status if lawmakers didn't approve a budget. The stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled Legislature began in 2015. This month, legislators approved a budget with an income tax increase over Rauner's vetoes. 

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The state of Illinois has officially given human resources departments the information they need to start deducting more from workers' paychecks.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Department of Revenue on Tuesday issued a release with specific details of implementing changes that accountants and employers need to enact the income tax hike that lawmakers approved last week.

The individual income tax rate is now 4.95 percent, up from 3.75 percent. Corporations will pay 7 percent instead of 5.25 percent. It is retroactive to July 1 of this year.

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The controversial override vote Thursday was delayed by about two hours when the capitol was put on lockdown, due to reports of a woman throwing or spilling an unknown substance near the governor’s office and other locations.

The woman’s name has not been released, but she is well-known to several people in the statehouse, and is an education advocate.

That’s according to Letitia Dewith-Anderson, a lobbyist who says she has known the woman for a couple of years; she bumped into her being escorted by police out of an elevator.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois’ two-year budget impasse is over. The House of Representatives on Thursday overrode the governor's budget veto, giving final approval to a spending plan and tax increase.

After two years of stalemate, more than a dozen Republicans broke with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

They joined Democrats to pass a $5-billion dollar tax increase.

The governor had been holding out for his business-friendly agenda, but some Republicans, like Rep. David Harris, from Arlington Heights, say time’s up.

The Two-Year Illinois Budget Impasse Is Over

Jul 6, 2017
Jenna Dooley

The Illinois House has voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a budget package. The action Thursday gives Illinois its first annual spending plan since 2015. 

The House voted to override the Republican governor's veto of a $5 billion increase in income taxes and a $36 billion spending plan. 

The veto overrides mean the nation's longest state budget crisis since at least the Great Depression has ended. The budget is retroactive to July 1 _ the start of the fiscal year. That's also the date that the 32 percent increase in the personal income tax rate takes effect. 

Dusty Rhodes/NPR Illinois

More than a dozen school leaders from across Illinois gathered at the state capitol Wednesday to thank lawmakers who went out on a limb to raise taxes and send more money to schools. They held signs and banners saying “thank you.” However, gratitude wasn’t their only motive.

If you deal with children, you're probably familiar with the concept of positive reinforcement. You reward children for good behavior as a way to encourage them to continue doing it.

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Two key Republicans in the Illinois House say they will continue supporting an income-tax increase over their governor's veto.

Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights and Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva were among 15 Republicans who bucked Gov. Bruce Rauner and helped provide a veto-proof majority for an income-tax increase of 1.2 cents per dollar. The hike is intended to help Illinois dig out of the nation's longest budget crisis since at least the Great Depression.

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More than a dozen school superintendents gathered in the statehouse today to thank lawmakers who went out on a limb to raise taxes and send more money to schools.

That gratitude was also their way of nudging lawmakers not to change their votes Thursday, when the House of Representatives will try to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget veto.

Jeff Craig, superintendent of Aurora West schools, admonished lawmakers with something a teacher might tell students about their classroom or playground.

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois Senate took action Tuesday meant to end a two-year budget stalemate. 

After two years of no budget and under threat of “junk bond” status, Democrats finally convinced enough Republican lawmakers to break with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

What would be the state’s first full budget in years includes an unpopular income tax increase.

Dale Righter of Mattoon is the only Republican senator who was persuaded to vote for it.

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote on a full budget today.

That’s after the House passed a spending plan and a tax increase over the weekend to try and end the two-year long impasse.

In the House, 15 Republicans went against Gov. Bruce Rauner and voted yes.

But it’s not a given that the Senate has the votes to pass it.

Senate Democrats already passed a budget. It included more spending than the plan they’re set to consider today.

Senate Republicans opposed that budget - and the question now is whether they’ll oppose this one too.

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Two of three major bond-rating firms have chimed in with a positive note on the financial outlook for Illinois.

S&P Global Ratings issued a notice Monday that a House vote to raise $5 billion through an income-tax increase "represents a meaningful step toward the enactment of a comprehensive budget."

Illinois has been without a budget for two years. It has a $6.2 billion deficit and backlogged bills total $14.7 billion. The major credit agencies had warned of a downgrade to "junk" status without swift action.

Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

Illinois lawmakers are back to work after a dramatic vote in the House to increase income taxes.

Attention turns Monday to the Senate, where lawmakers will consider the budget measures approved by the House a day earlier.

The Illinois House of Representatives approved an increase in the state income tax Sunday that will bring the personal tax rate to 4.95 percent. Corporations would pay 7 percent instead of 5.25 percent.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, voted on in the Illinois House Friday, while not yet the final word, outlines funding for all aspects of state government operations, goods, services, grants, projects and more.

Illinois will enter its third straight fiscal year without a budget plan in place.

The state House of Representatives adjourned its Friday special session, falling short of a solution to the state budget impasse before a midnight deadline. But they’re due back Saturday.

In a sign that negotiations are progressing, Republicans and Democrats advanced a measure that could serve as the spending plan for a budget, if a deal is reached.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats in the Illinois House say they’ll try to pass a state budget today. They say their plan is balanced — with spending cuts and tax increases.

Both Republicans and Democrats say they’ve been making progress, but they haven’t come to an agreement yet. Late last night, House Democrats introduced a new bill that would raise the state's individual income tax rate to 4.95 percent to help pay for it.

The budget vote was scheduled after a week’s worth of negotiations on both spending and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s political and economic agenda.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is stepping down, effective Saturday. That’s the first day of the new Illinois budget year -- which would be the third without a real budget unless she and other legislative leaders cut a deal.

Radogno was behind the secret bipartisan attempt at compromise that became known as the “grand bargain.” She says she’d hoped to be able to resign after getting it passed.

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The two-year Illinois state budget mess has prompted the Senate minority leader to call it quits.

Lemont Republican Sen. Christine Radogno is the first woman to lead a caucus of the Illinois General Assembly. She issued a statement Thursday that she will step down as senator on Saturday.

The 64-year-old Radogno said, "I have done everything I can do to resolve the state's budget crisis.''

"House Chamber" by Flickr User |=_=| / (CC x. 2.0)

The two-year Illinois state budget mess has prompted the Senate minority leader to call it quits.

Lemont Republican Sen. Christine Radogno is the first woman to lead a caucus of the Illinois General Assembly. She issued a statement Thursday that she will step down as senator on Saturday.

The 64-year-old Radogno said, "I have done everything I can do to resolve the state's budget crisis.''

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Illinois lawmakers have approved a new version of a plan to keep emergency 911 call centers funded past June 30.

The plan will increase phone fees to pay for emergency services and allow Illinois to drop traditional landline service.

The original measure sponsored by Harrisburg Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps would increase the telephone surcharge for emergency services. It would go to $5 from $3.90 in Chicago and from 87 cents to $1.50 in the rest of the state. 

Rauner called those hikes "unacceptable.'' 

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