SPRINGFIELD — With the two-year budget standoff looming large, Illinois lawmakers return to the capital city Monday for two days of work before a new session starts Wednesday.
Some hope emerged late last week when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner indicated that the Democrats who control the Senate have been negotiating with their GOP counterparts to broker a deal on the first annualized budget since Rauner was sworn in two years ago. He had no details and warned it was not finalized.
“It’s still being worked out, some legislation is being drafted, but I’m heartened by that,” he told reporters Friday in Carbondale. “I’m optimistic that Democrats and Republicans will continue to negotiate in good faith to come up with changes to our system so it’s not broken anymore.”
Rauner has insisted on a series of business-friendly, union-curbing changes in law as well as a freeze on local property taxes and limits to politicians’ power. But Democrats have steadfastly argued that those issues don’t belong in discussions about getting the budget situation under control.
Here are some of the numbers at the crux of the budget debate:
• $11 billion: The amount in bills at least 60 days old that the state owed, as of Friday, to vendors and service providers. That figure is higher than the current-year expected general revenue for 30 states, and more than the estimated tax dollars coming in this year for Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming combined, according to figures from the National Association of State Budget Officers.
• $5.3 billion: The estimated Illinois budget deficit on June 30 if nothing changes, according to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. That’s more than 13 percent of the total the state is on track to spend this fiscal year, and it’s the amount of revenue Arkansas estimates it will raise all year. Without action, the governor’s budget office predicts a $7 billion deficit in June 2018, or nearly 18 percent of the total spent.
• $1.7 million: The amount that was available for rape crisis centers to spend last fall after Rauner and legislative Democrats agreed to a six-month, stopgap budget that expired Dec. 31, according to Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Other money appropriated paid the previous year’s bills. The remainder is about one-quarter of what the 29 centers statewide need to operate annually, so clients are waiting longer for counseling and layoffs have meant professionals must do administrative chores.
• $0: The amount available, once again, for the income-based Monetary Award Program that helps students attend college. The stopgap provided $321 million for 107,000 awards, but that left 162,000 eligible students without help. For the spring, the budget uncertainty once again puts colleges in the position of fronting students the money with the hope of state reimbursement or students finding alternatives, including sitting home instead of registering for class. An Illinois Student Assistance Commission survey in December found that more than half of MAP-eligible students responding to a survey reported the funding uncertainty had adversely impacted their school plans.
• 1 million: Number of people who had lost services from United Way social-service agencies, including mental health and substance-abuse treatment, domestic violence services and HIV prevention, as of last summer. The United Way of Illinois reported that 91 percent of its local organizations had cut services.