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Shutdown hype

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2007

* Just because July’s one-month budget expires tonight, it does not necessarily mean that the government shuts down, despite what you may have read

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass a new budget.

* Again, the lack of a new budget does not mean that the state automatically stops functioning

State Comptroller Daniel Hynes says he only feels comfortable keeping his office in operation until August 8 if the state legislators and the governor can’t agree on a state budget by then. He said in a Statehouse news conference Monday that August 8 is the first day his office needs to cut the checks in order for 4,900 employees to get paid on time and for public schools to get $170 million’s worth of state aid on time to start the school year. […]

But they do have eight full days before Hynes’ warning applies. A full-year budget in the first week of August is possible.

By the way, many congrats to Bethany Carson, who revealed in that above post yesterday that she’s splitting town for a couple of weeks to get married and go on her honeymoon.

* The governor isn’t helping matters much, refusing to say when or if state government will shut down…

During a bill-signing ceremony in Farmersville, Blagojevich said contingency arrangements have been made to keep essential state services running if a temporary budget is allowed to expire at midnight. The governor did not elaborate on those plans. […]

Later, Blagojevich spokesman Justin DeJong said, “The state has contingency operations plans that are to be used in case of emergency, and on August 1 (Wednesday), we will begin putting those plans into motion.” He, too, declined to elaborate, although he said the plans do not call for the immediate closure of either state parks or historic sites.

* But at least the governor hasn’t ordered a premature closure tonight

Gov. Blagojevich’s administration has directed state workers to come to work Wednesday, despite the lack of a state budget and the possibility of not getting paid on time.
With no new progress to report on budget negotiations Monday, the threat of a partial government shutdown looms larger as a temporary budget passed last month lapses on Wednesday.

Without offering specifics, the governor said his administration has had preparations in place for a possible shutdown “for weeks and, in fact, months.

* Back to Hynes

Comptroller Dan Hynes says the absence of a spending plan doesn’t have to mean prisons, universities and state parks will close immediately.

He says Aug. 8 is the key date. That’s when Hynes says he needs to know the spending plan so he can get money to schools and make the state’s payroll.

* Some checks have to be written, others won’t…

Even without a budget, some state payments will continue, Hynes said. Checks to state retirees, welfare recipients and bond-holders must all be paid even with no budget.

Others, though, will be out of luck.

Hynes said his office would normally write about $100 million a day in checks for Medicaid payments, child care, equipment and other expenses.

* And a coinkydink?

Aug. 8 also is the date House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has set for a special hearing on education, indicating that he might believe lawmakers could still be working on a budget then. […]

“I see the glass as half full,” Blagojevich said. He added about Madigan: “Evidently, he sees it as half empty.”

* Meanwile the four tops continued to meet without the governor…

All four leaders met for about an hour … Not much was said only that they’re making progress. […]

The senate president’s spokesperson says the leaders will meet again tomorrow … Without the governor. But adds the senate president has the same goals as the governor. When asked if the governor was a problem during the negotiations… She wouldn’t respond. The speaker is calling for the entire house to meet next Wednesday about education funding.

* More

Legislative leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting on Monday with little to report.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, declined to comment.

Senate President Emil Jones said only that the meeting went well and the leaders were trying to get the budget done “as soon as possible.”

* And a small protest was held yesterday in Chicago…

Chants filled the air and candles lit up the night in front of the Thompson center as more than 100 people gathered to urge state lawmakers to pass a budget.

The People’s Movement, which sponsored the event, says lawmakers need to consider money for affordable housing, housing for the homeless, HIV patients and provide adequate resources for after school and violence prevention programs.

The Reverand Archury Phillips says any potential shutdown of the government would hurt the neediest families and communities.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - macbeth - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:19 am:

    What a needless, pointless, drawn-out drama.

    Blagojevich — hands down — is the loser here. He’s an awful, awful leader.

  2. - Lainer - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:28 am:

    Best wishes to Bethany also. I’m guessing that when she chose her wedding date, months ago, she went out of her way to pick one that could not possibly coincide with session…

  3. - Wacker Drive - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:29 am:

    Who cares! Shut it down let’s see what happens.
    First person not to get paid is Governor Blagojevich, next Emil Jones.

  4. - BlueByrd - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    Who is Bethany Carson?!?

  5. - JJ - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:00 am:

    It’s the low end state employees who won’t get paid. What’s the big deal about not having a budget it all the state offices are still running?

  6. - John Bambenek - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    I find it somewhat disturbing that most of the state agencies don’t seem to be letting their employees know what’s going on. The University of Illinois, for instance, either has no plan or simply isn’t letting employees know if they should show up for work.

  7. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    So far I do not see anyone from the public hyperventilating abut the prospect of a governmental shutdown.

    I realize the press wants to magnify the issue in order to create a false sense of urgency, but legislative bodies tend to be crisis driven organizations. The pressure needs to be allowed to build to a point that they move. Unfortunately with the caliber of those in charge, it will not be the best path for the citizens of Illinois

  8. - Bill - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    Congratulations, Bethany!

  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 11:06 am:

    plutocrat03 makes a good point about how “crises” tend to get things moving in Spfld and about the media hype.

  10. - Lainer - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 11:30 am:

    Blue Byrd, she’s the Statehouse reporter for Illinois Issues (print, Web and blog versions)

  11. - anon - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 11:23 pm:

    I have not heard a peep from Hynes about this budget fiasco. He’s apparently too busy raising money for Obama. Be a leader and voice your opinions on the ineptidudeness of this governor. You seen what happened before when you “played it safe” running against Obama. Come on…you are the State Comptroller. You pay the states bills. A couple of press releases of “your concerns’ doesn’t do the job. Be a leader!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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