Past Due: Illinois Can't Pass A Single Budget, But How About A Twofer?

Dec 11, 2016

Illinois hasn't had a true state budget for a year and five months. Even so, there's some talk of trying to work ahead on a spending plan for the future.

Talk to a university president. The head of a homeless shelter, rape crisis hotline, or other organization that depends on state funding. Even the director of a state agency.

They'll all tell you that one of the most difficult parts of going without a budget for so long, is that it's created tremendous uncertainty.

That's what's behind Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno's recent call for an 18-month budget.

It would take Illinois from January (when the stopgap plan that's currently in place will have expired) through the end of the next fiscal year, in June 2018.

"It would be wonderful for the people of this state not to have to worry about in just another couple of months. That is doable. It has not been done before. That absolutely does not mean it can't be done," Radogno said Tuesday. 

Except that would require a bipartisan agreement -- one that is apt to include fundamental changes to state government, including deep cuts and a tax hike -- and the relationship between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature's Democratic leaders has deteriorated to the point that there are no immediate plans to even meet.