Locals prepare for Illinois budget expiration

The clock is ticking for Illinois lawmakers to agree to a budget and avoid a partial government shutdown.

Democratic leaders are now proposing an extension that would give lawmakers another month to reach a deal.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has said in the past he would veto any extension.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed and frustrated with the General Assembly,” Rauner said. “We could, and should, resolve these issues on a prompt basis. This has been dragging awhile.”

Rauner also said state employees will still get paid.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she would block Rauner’s attempt to pay state employees without a budget.

According to John Jackson at the Paul Simon Policy Institute, Illinois lawmakers are playing a risky game.

“It’s not at all clear that either of them is going to blink yet,” Jackson said. “Behind the scenes it has already wreaked havoc. You can’t plan for anything.”

Childcare Resource and Referral Program Director Lori Longueville says she has been instructed to keep the doors open, but contain costs.

“Think about a family who is making $800,” Longueville said. “A mom with two kids, making minimum wage, working 40 hours a week is not going to be eligible for any childcare assistance.”

Families who already receive assistance won’t be denied, but Longueville says cost cutting has unintended consequences.

“What we’re going to say to families is ‘You can’t work; you have to stay at home,’” Longueville said. “Then they will be eligible for other social service costs, plus they start to break that cycle of kids watching their parents go to work.”

“It’s not at all an ideal way to run a government, but that’s the way we’ve chosen because the executive branch and the legislature can’t get along,” Jackson said.

Rauner has approved funding for the state education budget, so schools can afford to hire teachers and open the doors in August.

However, Rauner vetoed other aspects of the budget Democrats approved two weeks ago because it contained a $4 billion deficit, and to include his pro-business reforms.

Democrats say Rauner simply doesn’t care about needed social services.

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