SPRINGFIELD — The sick will suffer.CTA riders could face fare hikes or cuts in services. State employees won’t get paid.
Those and other doomsday scenarios have been thrown around the Capitol this week as Illinois began its new fiscal year Wednesday with no operating budget in place — and no sign of a compromise between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Legislature.
At the same time, one Republican promised “the Earth isn’t going to stop its rotation” and “the sun is going to rise.”
So it’s not entirely clear amid the political rhetoric exactly what a shutdown of state government will look like if lawmakers can’t reach a deal.
But some state officials have laid out more pragmatic predictions in recent weeks as an impasse seemed ever more likely. For example, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said last month that state employees will start missing paychecks July 15 if there’s no budget deal.
Munger, whose office cuts the checks to state workers and vendors, said new fiscal year 2016 payments to Medicaid providers and state vendors will stop. So will expedited payments to nonprofits and small employers.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said state payroll was an uncertainty because state laws “severely constrain the state’s authority to make payments to fund operations and services” without a budget in place.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office has said state employees will continue to get paid and most services — other than those outlined in cuts issued last month — won’t be affected.
His budget director, Tim Nuding, told lawmakers Tuesday that state employees are expected to show up at work.
“I know the word ‘shutdown’ has been thrown around a lot, and I think it’s used, frankly, cavalierly in order to scare people, but we are going to try to manage this thing as best we can,” Nuding said.
But Madigan’s office cited a 1991 appellate decision saying there could be no paychecks without a budget.
And Munger is expected to lay out her plans for dealing with the shutdown at a Thursday afternoon news conference in Chicago.
Of course, lawmakers had their own predictions for a government shutdown this week.
“The shutdown looks like children without child care services, parents who aren’t able to go to work and ultimately will end up on public subsidy programs,” Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Champaign, said. “It really looks like seniors without food services to their home, it looks like people with disabilities left to care for themselves in situations that are untenable.”
It’s a situation of life and death, some said.
“Not having a budget on July 1 will kill people,” Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said.
Republicans saw it differently.
“The Earth isn’t going to stop its rotation. The sun is going to rise and, thankfully, we will get there,” Republican Rep. Ron Sandack, of Downers Grove, said. “I do not believe there will be an immediate impact though I know there are lots of understandably worried and discombobulated people.”
Without the Medicaid payments Munger said might end, hospitals may have to lay off workers or not pay them, reducing services offered to patients, Illinois Hospital Association CEO Maryjane Wurth told senators Wednesday. Especially affected may be “safety net hospitals” that serve poor or rural communities, she said.
Lawmakers heard from her and others who said those in state care, such as state prisoners, may not get the medical services they need for illnesses such as diabetes or for mental health conditions.
“A government shutdown does not mean the loss of luxuries,” said Alice Johnson, the executive director of the Illinois Nurses Association, which represents nurses that work for state agencies. “A government shutdown would mean the loss of vital health care services that are necessary — not optional.”
The situation is just as dire for transit officials, officials from Metra, Pace and the CTA explained.
CTA President Dorval Carter told House members the agency could fund operations for a short time.
But eventually there would be “severe impacts” on riders, possibly including fare increases or service cuts, though more clarity from the state is needed, he said.
“We don’t have any sort of magic place we can go to substitute the funds we expect from the state,” Carter said. Source: http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/illinois-shutdown-looms-what-it-means/