Illinois has now surpassed 100 days without a state budget and the fiscal consequences have reached a breaking point. Comptroller Leslie Munger today said Illinois is “for all intents and purposes out of money” as billions of dollars in bills keep piling up and a major pension payment will not be made on time.
Munger says she is having to choose from a number of very bad options to try to make payments, and that even those options are decreasing. She used the following comparison to highlight just how bad the state's cash shortage is: Imagine that you have $7,000 in bills on your kitchen table and only $142 on hand. That is the ratio that Illinois faces at the moment.
The comptroller says the state is complying with court ordered and consent decree payments at last year's rates, although the lowering of the income tax rate in January means there's $5 billion less revenue coming in. She also says the state's debt service payments on bonds are still being met.
Munger says the unpaid bills at her office are approaching $7 billion and a $560 million pension payment due in November will have to be delayed, with the December payment also questionable at the moment.
“Families, businesses and organizations are paying the price for inaction in Springfield every single day.”
–Statement from Leslie Munger
In a news release issued by Munger's office today, it was stated that while "the ongoing state budget impasse will force Illinois to delay its November pension payment ... the retirement systems will be paid in full by the end of the fiscal year."
It continued, "Faced with the ongoing cash shortage, Munger has prioritized payments for nonprofits serving children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other most vulnerable residents. She is additionally required to ensure the state does not default on its debt service payments, and to meet state payroll."
We asked for reaction from House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Senate President John Cullerton and Gov. Bruce Rauner on Munger's decision to hold off on at least one $560 million pension payment. Here is what their spokespeople sent us:
The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene next Tuesday, but it's all up to the legislative leaders and governor to reach an accord on a budget that all sides can live with. But there are no signs of that happening right now.