Not a day goes by when we don’t hear from somebody with bad news about Illinois.
Credit rating going down, bills piling up, people moving out, roads crumbling.
A state falls apart in endless ways when it goes without a budget for two years.
But on Wednesday, the state Legislature will convene for a special 10-day session, called by Gov. Bruce Rauner, to finally — once and for all, no doubt about it, cross your fingers and hope to die — pass a budget. Should you care to hope.
We can’t emphasize it enough: Illinois really is taking a hit every day. Consider these ten bad news stories in just the last ten business days:
No more Powerball or Mega Millions: Lottery players won’t be able to buy tickets for those lotteries after this month if the state doesn’t pass a budget. Without a budget, the state isn’t authorized to make the proper payments.
A Bleak jobs report: When it comes to jobs, Illinois is moving backward. The Illinois Department of Employment Security has announced the state is 23,300 jobs short of the peak employment reached in September 2000. “If Illinois had grown at the national average over that time, the state would have an additional 650,000 jobs,” Jeff Mays, director of the agency, says.
Red light on roadwork: The Illinois Department of Transportation says it will shut down roadwork if lawmakers don’t pass a budget by June 30. Drivers still will have to maneuver through chaotic construction sites, but no repairs will be made. Workers will be sent home.
Outrageous borrowing: Chicago Public Schools will pay a whopping 6.39 percent interest in the first month of a $275 million adjustable-rate loan to complete a pension payment before June 30. The district has to make up for a grant the state has failed to deliver because of the budget impasse. CPS will have to borrow more — an additional $112 million is needed to fund district operations.
Medicaid payment: A federal judge ruled that Illinois must make a more substantial payment to Medicaid providers, in accordance with federal consent decrees. Medicaid patients and state officials are negotiating a dollar figure, but providers are owed more than $2.8 billion. To comply with this court order, the state could fail to make other court-mandated payments.
Desperate measures: An Illinois Appellate Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 90 social service agencies that haven’t been paid in two years. If the state doesn’t come through, they’re out of luck. And so are their clients, including victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and AIDS.
Unpaid bills: The state surpassed $15 billion in unpaid bills. Over just ten days, the state fell behind by $86.3 million.
Junk status: Moody’s Corp. downgraded the credit ratings of five Illinois universities to junk status. Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University all got hammered.
Bankruptcy talk: Articles by both CBS News Money Watch and the Fiscal Times raised the possibility of Illinois filing for bankruptcy. That actually could prove to be unconstitutional, but hows that for a terrific double-whammy hit on Illinois’ national reputation?
The ultimate bad news: Illinois, as of Wednesday, will have gone 722 days without a budget. And the news grows worse by the day.
Nobody cares how. Pass a budget.