Saturday, June 11, 2016

State budget: Brinksmanship over operations




Brinksmanship over operations

Friday, Jun 10, 2016

* As we’ve discussed before, the governor is accusing Speaker Madigan of creating a crisis in order to leverage a budget deal (and a resulting tax hike). Madigan’s path to this crisis is withholding approval of any appropriations to fund government operations. So, when Team Rauner claimed that the human services stop gap bill had “drafting errors” because the legislation didn’t appropriate any money to administer programs, the HDems countered by saying they had done it deliberately.

The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers and Madigan wants Gov. Rauner to sign it

Madigan said of a bill that is sitting on Rauner’s desk and would provide a stopgap measure to fund social services. “He refuses to sign that bill because he continues seeking a state of crisis in Illinois.”

Rauner on Wednesday defended his decision not to sign that bill, saying it doesn’t have “essential services in it.”

“That bill is designed to still create a government crisis,” Rauner said.

The measure, approved by both the Illinois House and Senate would have authorized spending about $450 million from a human services fund, and another $250 million from special funds to be spent on items such as foreclosure prevention, and affordable housing.

* Along those lines, Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin recently penned an op-ed about his agency’s rapidly approaching crisis

Without a budget, the Corrections Department will be hard pressed to continue with critical reforms that improve operations and outcomes, increase safety, and enhance programs aimed at helping offenders be successful once they return to communities across this state. Furthermore, we will be severely challenged to meet our legal obligation to provide constitutionally adequate care to the men and women in our custody who have been diagnosed with mental illness.

Lack of a balanced budget or stopgap budget will impact the department’s ability to feed offenders, keep the lights on, run water and fulfill other day-to-day duties. Our vendors, including many mom-and-pop businesses, that provide food supplies, fire equipment examination services, building repair parts and maintenance services, depend on our payments. These local businesses will continue to suffer without payment and will eventually have to pull their services. That could cripple the department in a matter of days.

As subscribers know, the Rauner administration has been trying to pry loose a stopgap for DOC and some other agencies since April. No luck so far.

I figure a federal judge will probably have to step in if DOC can’t feed its prisoners, or if water, sewer or lights are shut off.

- Posted by Rich Miller

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