With unpaid bills surpassing $15 billion, Illinois’s financial crisis is so dire, Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state has become like a “banana republic” and the comptroller is warning it "can no longer function." Even the lottery is at risk if a budget package isn’t passed soon.
A top financial official just warned 100 percent of the state's monthly revenue will be eaten up by court-ordered payments. Rauner is calling a special session of the Democrat-led General Assembly in a bid to pass what he hopes will be the first full budget package in almost three years.
And Illinois will – literally – lose the lottery if the budget fails.
The state lotto requires a payment from the legislature each year. The current appropriation expires June 30, meaning no authority to pay prizes. In anticipation of a budget deadlock, the state already is planning to halt Powerball and Mega Millions sales.
After the General Assembly failed to pass a budget earlier this month, Rauner said the state is “like a banana republic.”
“We can’t manage our money,” he added.
Echoing these remarks, the state's comptroller, Susana Mendoza, warned over the weekend that Illinois is in "massive crisis mode" because it is "effectively hemorrhaging money."
"The state can no longer function without a responsible and complete budget without severely impacting our core obligations and decimating services to the state's most in-need citizens," she continued. "We must put our fiscal house in order. It is already too late. Action is needed now."
Rauner says Republicans do have a plan to get the situation under control.
“Republicans in the General Assembly have laid out a compromise budget that I can sign,” Rauner said, noting it’s a “true compromise.”
The plan incorporates reforms like property tax relief, term limits, and spending caps, which have caused an “ongoing confrontation” between Madigan and the governor, one Republican leader told Fox News, adding that the two have been in a “stalemate” since Rauner took office two years ago.
His proposals have faced resistance from Democrats, however.
Steve Brown, press secretary for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he’s not making enough concessions.
“He’s not walking many back—the financial issues are serious enough, and he’s forcing things that have nothing to do with state government,” Brown told Fox. “The biggest problem here is that the governor keeps associating a lot of things that do not have anything to do with the budget.”
Thus far, the state has been functioning by passing a series of stopgap spending packages, which is an option if the General Assembly again fails to pass a budget. But taking that route is not ideal, lawmakers argue.
“We have a very real deadline looming,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno told Fox News. “The alternative to not finding a compromise will be devastating to Illinois.”