House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton began the first week of the fall veto session by boycotting a budget negotiation meeting scheduled by the Governor. Despite their attendance at later meetings, no significant progress was made on balancing the budget and passing any reforms to streamline state government and reduce costs.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) reiterated the need for a full budget solution to provide stability to residents and businesses, while protecting vital state services and schools.
The urgency of the matter was underscored when the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget released its annual long-term budget projections. The publication estimated that the current budget year deficit is nearing $5.3 billion, which will likely push the bill backlog to $13.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year. With no changes to the status quo, the backlog could reach $47 billion by Fiscal Year 2022.
While the stopgap budget that passed over the summer funds K-12 schools, transportation, and some higher education spending, the spending authority for much of the budget will expire on Jan. 1, meaning no more money is appropriated for the state’s already struggling colleges and universities, some human service providers, state vendors and operations (including utility bills for prisons and state facilities), and healthcare for state employees.
Despite the state’s budget crisis, both Madigan and Cullerton decided to cancel Thursday’s session in their respective chambers, leaving only three days left in the annual fall veto session to deal with the budget.