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.

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

The lack of a state budget puts some local projects in jeopardy--including road work. 

Flickr/aka_kath

The state fair in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair are scheduled to begin in August. But if there is no state budget in place, it's unclear how entertainment and vendors would be paid.

cityofchicago.org

Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn talks with University of Illinois Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson about Chicago's budget situation and why it matters even if you don't live there.

Steve Brown and Michael Madigan at press conference in statehouse blue room.
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois began its new fiscal year on July 1. But if you work for the state or rely on state services, there is no reason to celebrate.

Illinois Department of Revenue

Almost every time House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks to the press lately, he says that the state's estimated $6 billion deficit cannot be addressed through cuts alone.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The spring legislative session ended without a budget deal between Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

The legislature plans to continue session into the summer. But what happens if a spending plan is not in place when the state’s fiscal year begins on July 1?

Illinois Issues-WUIS

Democrats are going it alone on the budget and the bills are flying. How can you keep track of all the budget legislation out there? By using this handy list. 

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not consider new revenues for next fiscal year until the legislature approves some of his agenda.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois House held its first hearing on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to address the state’s unfunded pension liability. 

Under the governor's plan, employees would keep all the retirement benefits they have logged so far, but would see a cut to their benefits going forward. Democrats on the House's pension committee said last week’s Illinois Supreme Court opinion, overturning pension changes passed two years ago, rules out that idea.

Luis Arroyo
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A budget oversight panel created by Illinois House Speaker  Michael Madigan grilled members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about cuts to the current budget and his plan for next year. 

  Democratic members of the committee demanded more information about how the governor is choosing which programs to cut and, in some cases, eliminate. They say the process the administration used to decide what to cut lacked transparency  and argued that some of the choices, like eliminating services to people with autism, were wrong.

potter
Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

State Sen. Matt Murphy
WUIS/Illinois Issues

This is Past Due, a look at big picture budget issues facing Illinois. Lawmakers have returned from their spring break, and one topic is on everyone’s mind: the budget.

Democrats want more revenue, which would likely mean some version of a tax increase. Some Republicans say they would consider it, but they want business friendly reforms passed first. This week, you will hear Jamey Dunn chat with two senators who serve on budgeting committees, one a Democrat and one a Republican.

 Some Lawmakers say that they believed certain programs had been protected under a budget deal recently struck with the governor to fund state services through the rest of the fiscal year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner froze several human services grants earlier this month — including support for people with autism.

Now a Senate budget committee is calling on members of the administration to explain the cuts. Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, who chairs the committee, says the money should be restored.

 In a recent Illinois Issues article, I looked at the post-recession budget stories of three other populous states: New Jersey, California and Texas. These states have all had ups and downs following the economic collapse in 2008. Some of the details are enviable, like Texas' economic growth and California's ability to balance its budget after grappling with staggering deficits. Other aspects serve as cautionary tales of how not to deal with big budget challenges, like pension funding.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

A version of the story first ran in Illinois Issues magazine in April 2012. It has been updated with new information.

The state’s complicated budget mess is a source of headlines for the media and headaches for those who administer state-funded programs and the politicians whose job it is to solve the problem. But most people — politicians, reporters and Statehouse commentators alike — only focus on four out of hundreds of funds when it comes time to craft the state’s budget each year.

Illinois’ budget is in even worse shape than previously thought. Illinois has the biggest unfunded pension obligation in the nation. Illinois slapped with the lowest credit rating of any state. These are the grim headlines Illinois residents endure on a regular basis. You can’t live in this state and not have at least a vague idea that our budget is in the dumps. 

The need for infrastructure investments across the country is great and has been in the news a lot lately. The American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that the country will need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020. The same group gave the country's infrastructure a D+ rating for 2013. Illinois got a C-.

House Speaker Michael Madigan
WUIS/Illinois Issues

During his inaugural speech in January, House Speaker Michael Madigan called for the creation of a task force to look into ways to prevent mass shootings, such as the 2013 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

News Analysis - Gov. Bruce Rauner’s speech did little to convey the gravity of the cuts proposed in his budget plan.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

News Analysis  — As the time bombs built into the current fiscal year’s budget begin to go off, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants lawmakers to give him broad powers to move money around.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

 Gov. Bruce Rauner is saving the details for his budget address next month, but he did have a few things to say about the state’s fiscal situation after he was sworn in Monday.

“We must forget the days of feeling good about just making it through another year—by patching over major problems with stitches that are bound to break,” Rauner said during his inaugural speech. “Those stitches are now busting wide open and we must begin by taking immediate, decisive action.”

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

Gov. -elect Bruce Rauner’s transition team took a pass on making any budget recommendations in a report the group issued today.

The bipartisan group’s report emphasized that the state’s dire fiscal situation is the most pressing challenge the soon-to-be governor will face. The document goes so far as to say that if the new administration cannot stabilize the state’s budget, it will not succeed with other items on its agenda, be they modest or ambitious.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A version of this story first appeared on the Illinois Issues Blog in July 2014.

After years of trying to find a solution to the tackle the state’s $100 billion unfunded pension liability, lawmakers approved pension changes in December of last year. Illinois was SAVED! Crank up the tunes, call up the bond rating agencies, put Squeezy the Pension Python out to pasture — happy days are here again!

screenshots from candidate TV ads

Unfortunately, even if the winner of the contest for governor is able to resolve what are arguably the two most pressing fiscal issues the state faces, Illinois’ budget would still be in deep trouble.

Tom Cross for Treasurer campaign

Tom Cross of Oswego has spent more than 20 years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  A former prosecutor, for over a decade he was the House Republican Leader.  

Now Cross, 56, wants to be state Treasurer.  He won the GOP nomination and faces Democratic state Senator  Mike Frerichs of Champaign.  The position is responsible for investing state dollars.

Cross said he feels current Treasurer Dan Rutherford has done "a nice job" streamlining the office and it's budget.  But he said he can take the office in a different direction.

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