Illinois Stopgap Funding Is Running Out. Is Long-Term Plan The Answer?
By the end of this month, Illinois state government will be back to having no budget.
Illinois hasn't had a true state budget for a year and five months. Even so, there's some talk of trying to work ahead on a spending plan for the future.
Anyone even remotely connected to state government will tell you that one of the most difficult parts of going without a budget for so long is that it's created tremendous uncertainty.
That's what's behind Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno's recent call for an 18-month budget.
Last spring, lawmakers passed a spending plan for only half of the fiscal year, and it runs out at the end of this month.
Radogno's plan would take Illinois from January – after the stopgap plan currently in place expires -- through the end of the next fiscal year, in June 2018.
"We could get this job done for 18 months for the people of the state of Illinois. And I mean the people of this state,” she said. “It is the people who receive services from the state that are hurting."
Radogno admits that would be unprecedented for Illinois.
"It would be wonderful for the people of this state not to have to worry about in just another couple of months,” Radogno said, “That is doable. It has not been done before.”
That would require a bipartisan agreement -- one that is apt to include fundamental changes to state government, including deep cuts and a tax hike.
A long-range plan could make it easier for Illinois's Republican governor to come to a deal with the legislature's Democratic majorities.
But it's also an optimistic notion, given their inability to reach a true budget consensus for the past year-and-a-half.
And right now, the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders aren't even talking.