Past Due

Increased coverage of the consequences and path forward for Illinois' fiscal future.

Past Due:  Illinois Budget Fail is a commitment by NPR Illinois to cover the historic Illinois budget impasse and to the explain the impact that continues to build as time passes without a budget.  NPR Illinois reporters will investigate how Illinois is, and will be, affected by the uncertainty.  When there is resolution, we'll analyze if it's sufficient in leading the state back to fiscal health or whether it pushes tough choices off to another day.

You have a role in bringing the repercussions of a lack of budget to the broader public.  If you or your organization have been affected, please tell your story.  Use your smartphone camera and post a YouTube or Facebook Live video to the NPR Illinois Facebook page.  If you don't have access to video, email your story to engage@nprillinois.org.  We will share some stories on air and on this page.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding passed along automatically. It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register/Pool

The Illinois House is set to return to Springfield this week. Meanwhile, policymakers are still puzzling through last week's budget proposal by Gov, Bruce Rauner, partly because his administration made a significant break with tradition in rolling it out.

The immediate reaction to the governor’s proposal included confusion. Typically, the top budget aides to the governor meet with their counterparts in the legislature before the big speech. But not the Rauner administration.

State Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says this is “unprecedented territory.”

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Low-income college students have a glimmer of hope now that Governor Bruce Rauner has included money for Monetary Award Program, or MAP grants, in his budget plan. But students already in school may not enjoy the benefit.

St. Clair County Building
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

BELLEVILLE — St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien has rejected a budget move by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She’d asked the judge to terminate his order to pay state employees — even without a budget.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission

Eric Zarnikow is in charge of Illinois’ program to help low-income students pay college tuition, known as MAP grants. He cheered yesterday when Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed increasing MAP funding by 10 percent, saying it could accommodate 12,000 more students, or increase the size of the grants.

But one thing the proposal does not do is pay for MAP students in school today.

 

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his third annual budget address to the General Assembly on Wednesday. Public broadcasting reporters across Illinois have annotated his speech.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats say no. Rauner says yes. Brian Mackey tries to figure out who's right.

Digging a hole. A really deep hole.
David Stillman / Flickr.com/stilldavid (CC-BY-NC)

Gov. Bruce Rauner will make his annual budget address to the Illinois General Assembly this Wednesday. It comes as state government has gone more than 19 months without a real budget.

That’s led the financial experts at credit rating agencies to issue a series of downgrades and dire assessments. The latest is called "For Illinois, Having a Plan Beats No Plan." It comes from S&P Global Ratings, where Gabriel Petek analyzes state governments.

Student rally in Illinois state capitol rotunda.
Tom Lisi / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

College students rallied in the state Capitol rotunda Wednesday. They’re urging lawmakers to restore state funding to universities and community colleges.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate began voting Wednesday on what’s been called a “grand bargain” to end the state’s 19-month budget fight. But the supposedly bipartisan agreement got zero Republican votes.

State Sen. Heather Steans
SEN. HEATHER STEANS' OFFICE

The Illinois Senate is still negotiating a compromise to finally rectify the state's historic failure to enact a budget. The proposal has changed a lot in the month since it was introduced. 

John Cullerton headshot
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate could begin voting Tuesday on a bipartisan compromise meant to end the state's budget standoff.

Sen. Dale Righter headshot
Illinois General Assembly

State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) sat down with us to talk about the state budget impasse, efforts to reach compromise and the Attorney General’s attempt to stop payment to government workers without spending authorization.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Lawmakers introduced competing plans to make sure state employees can remain on the job even if there's no end to the state budget standoff. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner is refusing to say whether he approves of the incipient budget compromise being worked out in the state Senate. And what does it say about the future of the downstate economy that Caterpillar Inc. is moving several hundred top jobs from Peoria to the Chicago area?

Rep. Tim Butler
Illinois General Assembly

The Springfield Republican sat down with us to talk about several key issues involving state government. 

Flickr user spDuchamp / Creative Commons

A report says the outlook for the Illinois economy is bleak.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a St. Clair County judge to stop state employees from getting paid without a legal state budget. Could the move force a resolution of Illinois' 19-month budget impasse?

Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his annual State of the State address. And Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and President Donald Trump engaged in a multimedia war of words.

MAP students from St. Xavier University lobbied lawmakers at the Thompson Center in Chicago last February.
St. Xavier University

The ongoing state budget impasse, now in its second year, has been particularly tough for low-income college students who rely on the state’s Monetary Award Program -- known as the MAP grant -- to help cover tuition. The state has delivered only a fraction of the money promised for those grants, and schools have had to choose between covering the grants using their own reserves or billing the students. The latter choice leaves campus financial aid officers with the task of breaking the bad news to students. We asked Sue Swisher, executive director of financial aid at St. Xavier University in Chicago, to tell us how those conversations go.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan headshot
Office of Illinois Attorney General

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is seeking to stop state worker pay until legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner approve a spending plan.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate left Springfield Thursday without voting on a bipartisan effort to end Illinois' budget stalemate. But hope springs eternal.

The so-called grand bargain — devised earlier this month by the Senate's top leadership — was like a chili recipe where the cooks keep swapping ingredients. The latest version would increase the income tax by one-and-a-quarter percentage points, and further decrease government pensions.

It would also fully fund Illinois government for the first time since 2015.

John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will strike an optimistic tone in his State of the State address, while acknowledging Illinois faces ``significant challenges.''
 

Since the Illinois temporary spending plan ended in December, even more services are disappearing. One of them is state aid to provide funerals for families that can’t afford them.


John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate is this week expected to consider a bipartisan compromise meant to break the 18-month budget stalemate.

The framework shows there are many areas in which Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement. But it still leaves one big philosophical question unanswered.

That question is whether a governor can say: "Pass my agenda, and only then will I negotiate on a budget."

Democrats, like state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, have resisted that ultimatum.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, more talk of a potential bipartisan compromise on reaching a budget agreement - in the Senate, at least.  Governor Bruce Rauner isn't commenting on it, however.  Matt Dietrich of Reboot Illinois and Tony Arnold of WBEZ Public Radio join the panel.

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

The last time the General Assembly tried to make school funding more equitable across Illinois, the legislation got derailed largely due to a fight over teacher pensions. Now pensions have cropped up again, this time in a bipartisan commission working to overhaul the school funding formula.

Jannes Pockele/flickr

Part of a potential compromise at the statehouse would make Illinois the first state with a tax on sugary drinks, like soda. 

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

For the past 20 years, school funding in Illinois has relied heavily on property taxes, which means schools near prime commercial or residential areas thrive, while others struggle to get by. Since August, a bi-partisan, bi-cameral group of lawmakers has been meeting regularly to try to come up with a better way to fund public schools.

Last week, after four days of legislative sessions ended, most of the 20 lawmakers appointed to the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission hung around Springfield just for this meeting. It took place in a stuffy teleconference room, and lasted three solid hours, with no breaks.

But even after the meeting adjourned, Senators Karen McConnaughay and Andy Manar lingered, continuing their discussion. She’s a Republican representing several upscale suburbs of Chicago; he’s a Democrat from the tiny town of Bunker Hill. Could this be a sign that on this issue, lawmakers from different worlds are trying to pull together?

Michael Madigan being sworn in at UIS
Ted Schurter / State Journal-Register (Pool Photo)

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House Wednesday in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly, and Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.

Illinois Senate
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Pages