Will they, or won’t they? Signs point to yes—the Illinois government will “shut down” at midnight tonight.
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner spent the majority of today touring various agencies in an effort to calm the nerves of state employees who can’t be assured of a paycheck after mid-July. Democrats in the Illinois legislature led by House Speaker Michael Madigan plan on pitching an alternate, short-term spending plan tomorrow that would fund “essential” programs for the next month; Rauner, however, has already vetoed one Democrat-drafted budget, and indicated that short-term fixes aren’t a viable funding option.
Still, Rauner is a Republican pilgrim in an unholy “blue” land, and the pressure is mounting. Will Rauner cave? It doesn’t look like it:
Asked whether the governor would support Madigan’s temporary budget, deputy chief of staff Mike Schrimpf pointed to Rauner’s statement earlier in June that “an unbalanced short-term budget with no real reforms is still a phony budget and unacceptable to the people of Illinois.”
Absent a budget deal, it’s unclear what will happen with state government at the start of business Wednesday. Employee unions have said workers will punch in; there is enough money to pay them through mid-July. Services provided by private vendors could wind down or end because there’s no guarantee there will be payment for them.
Rauner spent Tuesday morning visiting workers at state agencies, assuring them that he will do what he can to make sure they continue getting paid — the Democratic attorney general has warned his plan would be illegal. And Rauner bemoaned uncooperative Democrats who won’t go along with business and political reforms he wants adopted before discussing the budget.
Rauner insists Illinois must freeze property taxes to give homeowners a break, put restrictions on liability lawsuits and compensation for workers’ injuries to make business operations cheaper, allow for expansion and increase tax revenue. Term limits and impartial political map-drawing would keep officeholders accountable and thrifty, he says.
Madigan says the business changes would hurt middle-class workers and calls them “extreme.”
Rauner turned that term against the opposing party, saying his plans make “extreme common sense.”
“What is extreme in Illinois is our property tax burden, what is extreme is our deficit and our debt, what is extreme is our low economic growth, our low rate of job-creation and our high rate of conflicts of interest inside government,” Rauner said.
Rauner made waves in his first budget address earlier this year when he called for major spending cuts to Medicaid, higher ed, pension plans, and municipal grant programs.
So far, the impending downfall of life as Illinoisans know it hasn’t made much of a splash on social media. We’ll keep you updated as the situation progresses (or fails to progress.)
Democrats are still set to vote on their temporary spending plan Wednesday in an effort to avoid the shutdown. Rauner is expected to veto the effort.