The Illinois state legislature adjourned the 2016 spring session just minutes before midnight on May 31 and, once again, failed to pass a budget for FY16 or FY17.
The failure of the legislature and Governor to come together and act to end this impasse means that many vital social service and education programs across the state, which have already suffered devastating cuts in FY16, could face even more dire and permanent consequences in the coming months. Agencies that serve sexual assault survivors and homeless populations have already significantly reduced staff and services, and many face closure if a responsible budget is not enacted soon. The stopgap funding for public universities and student MAP Grants will only last through the summer and, come fall, students and university staff will be back in the same crisis they were facing just a few months ago.
Perhaps the most significant forthcoming consequence is that, without a responsible budget that appropriates state revenues for K-12 education, school districts across the state, including the Chicago Public Schools, will not be able to open their doors when the new school year begins.
Both sides of the aisle bare responsibility for this impasse; neither have proposed actual revenue solutions to end the crisis. The Democratic controlled House passed a spending plan that was $7 billion short on revenue. The plan was rejected by Senate Democrats, who then passed only a K-12 education funding plan, which also contained no new revenue and ignored all other obligations the state has. This Senate education funding plan was voted down by the House. Governor Rauner rebuked the House and Senate Democrats for their irresponsible budgeting but, on the last day of session, he too proposed a temporary six month stop gap spending plan full of one-time revenue patches that dip into special state funds, a practice he criticized as irresponsible on his way into office.
These actions are nothing more than attempts at political cover as the November election approaches and each side tries to place the blame on their opponents. Meanwhile, actual human suffering, and revenue solutions that could prevent more, continue to be ignored by both the legislature and Governor.
On Thursday, June 30 we are standing with other community organizations, service providers, students, and workers to demand that Governor Rauner put aside his non-budget agenda and work with the legislature to enact a responsible budget that puts people first.