SHUTDOWN: Illinois preps for the worst

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

An 11th hour offer from the Illinois House of Representatives to keep state services online for additional 30 days was not enough to save the state from a government shutdown Tuesday.

While the House measure is expected to go through Wednesday morning, Governor Bruce Rauner’s office said the first-term Republican will veto the bill, calling it a “one-month Band-Aid” that doesn’t solve the state’s financial crisis.

“I would simply hope the governor would see the wisdom of continuing to keep the government functioning,” Speaker Mike Madigan (D, Chicago) said.

Rauner hit back, saying that labeling the impasse which would see critical services go unfunded beginning Wednesday morning as a “government shutdown” was simply a scare tactic.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a release Monday that state employees and creditors would not be eligible to receive payment without a budget in place.

But Rauner’s office argues that a 2007 court case set precedent for payments to go ahead. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a letter from Rauner’s staff circulated Springfield arguing that Madigan’s interpretation of the state’s constitution is flawed.

State Rep. Litesa Wallace (D, Rockford) told The Rock River Times Monday that a shutdown would mean the end of payments to many social service agencies across the state.

“Non-profits are going to close their doors July 1,” she said. “A number of over state agencies and businesses will have to stay laying people off if there’s no budget in place.”

Rauner in a Chicago Tribune editorial last week said that he was unwilling to pass a budget put forth by House Democrats, saying that its $4 billion funding gap was unconstitutional and that legislation regarding term limits, redistricting and pension reform would have to be dealt with before a budget could move forward.

Democrats have accused the governor of avoiding passing a working budget in favor of pushing legislation that is part of his “Turnaround Agenda.”

“We have a governor who says (the Democrats’) budget is a non-starter, that it’s unconstitutional,” a source close to the discussions said Tuesday.

“But when push comes to shove, his budget is at least $2.2 billion off the mark as well. So which one is it?”

“Rauner’s saying he wants all these reforms to help business,” another source said Monday, “but right now we’re No. 2 in the country in attracting business.”

The House met Tuesday in a Committee of the Whole to hear testimony on what a shutdown would mean to the state.

But the month-long stay came out of discussions late in the afternoon, and leaders hoped Rauner would approve the measure to keep the state open for business after Wednesday.

“This is another opportunity for the governor to not shut down the government,” Madigan told reporters.

“The governor didn’t have to go to the point of vetoing every single budget bill other than the education bills that we send him. He didn’t have to put us on the brink of a shutdown,” State Rep. Lou Lang (D, Skokie) told ABC 7 Chicago.

State offices will remain open Wednesday as the temporary measure moves to the governor’s desk, but a veto will be the final step in current negotiations and Thursday will see the beginning of closures around Illinois.

“It’s going to be two-fold,” Wallace said. “People won’t be able to get to work and those people won’t be able to spend money at small businesses.

“This will devastate families in the Rockford area.

Payroll is met through July 15 but local leaders have already expressed concerns over funds committed to projects and personnel that has yet to be appropriated.

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