Illinois will enter a third straight year without a budget. But lawmakers say they’re getting closer, and will continue to meet this weekend.
Legislators began their day with a test vote on a spending plan. There was a lot of positive talk from both Democrats and Republicans.
“This is a good start," House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said. “We are close. We are so close, I can taste it.”
Republicans say they supported the Democratic spending plan as a show of good faith. But it was just a procedural vote. Significant differences remain, on both budget matters and the governor’s economic and political agenda.
Negotiations are continuing, but the House adjourned for the day.
That means Illinois lawmakers won’t consider a full budget — including higher tax rates — until the weekend at the earliest.
Bond Ratings Worry
Credit agencies have warned that the state's debt would be rated “junk” status if the state didn't have a budget by July 1.
House Speaker Michael Madigan says he sent a letter to the bond rating agencies, “… asking them to defer any further opinions relative to the credit rating of the state of Illinois, until we’ve had sufficient time to finalize our budget-making.”
The agencies all declined to respond to Madigan’s request, but the Fourth of July holiday could give Illinois a reprieve — rating action is unusual on evenings, weekends and holidays.
A “junk” downgrade would drive up the cost of borrowing — meaning more taxpayer money is spent on interest instead of government programs.