SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — If Illinois enters a second year without a budget this week, cash will stop flowing to local 911 centers, preventive health screenings and tuition grants for low-income college students — and the situation will only get direr from there.
Not approving a new spending plan by the start of the new fiscal year on Friday means schools won't know whether they'll stay open through the academic year, the state could lose billions in federal dollars for various programs, and vendors that have provided services without payments could file more lawsuits.
Entering a second fiscal year without a budget is unprecedented, so officials will have no roadmap for all the harmful situations Illinois could face.
"We are so cash-strapped these days, we need every dollar we have going to pay the critical services to the state, not in legal fees," said Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger.
With the clock ticking, lawmakers are scheduled to be in Springfield Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans filed rival plans to fund schools for another year and a partial budget for other state operations, but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has already said he disagrees with key pieces of that proposal.
There's still some hope for an agreed-upon plan. Rauner and legislative leaders met for nearly three hours late Tuesday, and both GOP and Democratic leaders said afterward that they had made progress and would meet again Wednesday morning.
A full-year state budget will remain elusive because Rauner, a businessman elected in 2014, and Democratic leaders who have long controlled the General Assembly are at odds over the governor's demands for business-friendly, union-weakening laws as a condition for agreeing to a spending plan that would include a tax hike.
Here's a look at what Illinois could face:
Public schools may have about a month before knowing whether they can open on time for the 2016-2017 academic year. This includes Chicago Public Schools, with approximately 400,000 students.
Education funding is the only portion of the budget for the current year that Rauner approved, so schools have largely been spared the consequences of the impasse. But if lawmakers and the governor fail to approve a new education budget soon, schools will be at risk of closing or will have to use rainy day funds to open.
Not every district will have enough money reserves to open, and even the ones that do may not be able to operate for a full year.
"Frankly, this may be the sort of crisis that does force the issue (to a resolution)," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Illinois typically sends the first payment to schools on Aug. 10, according to Munger. But she said there must be a budget at least a few days before then to make the payments on time.
Lawmakers and the governor agreed in December to release $3.1 billion in one-time funds for local governments that rely on the state for funding services such as 911 call centers and domestic violence shelters. But come Friday those payments will stop.
Without a budget, the state will be losing out on $5.4 billion in federal pass-through dollars for public health services, cancer screenings, and home-delivered meals for seniors, according to the comptroller's office. The state will only get that money if lawmakers authorize spending.
Much of the spending for the current year has been on autopilot because of court orders for critical services such as Medicaid payments and state workers' salaries. While that's expected to continue, there's some spending lawmakers approved during the budget standoff that will have to be reauthorized.
The status of cash-strapped public colleges and universities may depend on how fast they spent last year's emergency funds.
The schools received short-term funding when Rauner and legislators approved $600 million in April. That included nearly $170 million in tuition grants for low-income students.
But that money was only a fraction of the normal higher education budget and it was meant as a lifeline for colleges and universities to make it to the fall. Without a budget, there won't be any additional money.
Before getting the emergency money, higher education institutions had been without funding since last July 1, prompting layoffs and, in the case of Chicago State University, the possibility of closing altogether. CSU was in such dire straits by the time the funding came through that it still laid off more than 300 employees.
MONEY OWED TO SOCIAL SERVICES
If there's no spending authority, Munger said, the only recourse for social service agencies, utilities and other state vendors awaiting payment will be to sue the state. The state already faces one lawsuit demanding the immediate payment of $130 million to 82 service providers, including one run by Diana Rauner, the governor's wife.
Some social service agencies have received money this year because of the court orders against the state. But many others have been barely operating without state aid.
Last week the United Way of Illinois released a survey of 429 agencies that have contracts with the state that showed nearly two-thirds have had to cut programs because they haven't been paid, affecting nearly 1 million people. These agencies provide a range of services, including mental health treatment, childhood education and substance abuse help.
If they go another six months without funding, more than half of the agencies say they'll have to stop serving clients.
"This is just nonsense. We're devastating the state for self-made reasons," said Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans, one of the lawmakers trying to negotiate a budget.
Associated Press reporter Sara Burnett contributed from Chicago.