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Lesser-known impasse problems

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Kerry Lester

I was tipped that 177 Cook County workers who enforce child support agreements are expected to be laid off next month as yet another result of the state budget standoff.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office reports the county has been shifting money from its general funds to keep the program afloat. But the state owes $12.4 million and the county is unable to keep the program going without those funds past June 30.

* Mark Brown

Illinois’ budget standoff hit home for Rachel Grainer in a way she never would have anticipated.

The 79-year-old Oak Park woman, just home from a hospital stay, was shocked to receive a letter from her mortgage company in March demanding that Grainer immediately pay her overdue real estate taxes and threatening to force her to open an escrow account for future taxes.

Grainer thought there must be some mistake. That’s because she is among hundreds of Chicago area homeowners who participate in the state’s Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program. […]

But Grainer was among 290 Cook County residents whose taxes totaling $943,663 went unpaid last year because the state did not remit the money to the county as promised.

The reason: no state budget, therefore no legal authority for the Illinois Department of Revenue to make the payments, the same Catch 22 facing dozens of state programs during the impasse.

* John O’Connell

The current state budget crisis is having an extreme negative effect on wildlife and fisheries management in Illinois. Federal excise taxes, such as the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Dingell-Johnson Act) and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act) were created to provide federal monies for the management and restoration of fish and wildlife. When sportsmen purchase ammunition, firearms, and fishing equipment, they are contributing to these funds, with the knowledge that the money collected will be redistributed to the states for the enhancement and management of wildlife, angling, and associated recreational activities.

It should be simple; the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is billed for expenditures on projects approved for federal grant-in-aid funding and, in turn, bills the federal agencies that have allocated the funds. These funds are then reimbursed and are thus often referred to as “flow-through” funding. Unfortunately, the flow has been blocked; the IDNR is not currently authorized to reimburse projects due to the budget impasse. An immediate solution would be to issue a spending authority to the IDNR explicitly for these specific accounts, regardless of budget status. This can happen without the passing of the state budget; similar spending bills have already been issued by the state general assembly for other purposes during the impasse. If Illinois does not authorize the spending of these funds soon, they will be forfeited, a serious injustice to the fish and wildlife of the state as well as the sportsmen who paid into the funds.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments
  1. - Anon221 - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    How much of the freezing from 2015 is still going on??? Is the IDNR story related all the way back to that order by Rauner???

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0KL20720150113


  2. - Annonin' - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 1:22 pm:

    Guessin’ BigBrain should have included in fed funds/OSF approps, but that probably they need to get a clue as to what they are actually doin’ OR
    GUMBEE wants to sweep the fudns :)


  3. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    The consequences of not agreeing on a balanced budget will be much worse this time.

    Many of the service providers who survived the first year of this impasse are tapped out now.


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    ==This can happen without the passing of the state budget; similar spending bills have already been issued by the state general assembly for other purposes during the impasse.==

    The GA should pass a clean bill stating this for IDNR and similar federal funds immediately so Rauner can sign it. This is a clear means of benefitting the state right now. They can still have their childish =epic struggle=.


  5. - RNUG - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 3:06 pm:

    == The GA should pass a clean bill stating this for IDNR and similar federal funds immediately so Rauner can sign it. ==

    Action on stuff like this could eventually build enough trust to actually work on solving the budget issues.


  6. - Quill - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 5:12 pm:

    Access to federal pass-through dollars are right now a problem for those providing social services. The average taxpayer isn’t aware of these mechanisms, but they’re part of what makes it possible, for example, to support people with disabilities who need services to live in the community in their own homes.


  7. - Liberty - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 6:26 pm:

    Rauner didn’t have to veto the everything but education. Republicans need to stop whining about unpaid bills.


  8. - peon - Monday, May 30, 16 @ 8:52 pm:

    So why did the Governor make the mistake originally by deciding that the budget was leverage ?

    Leverage = something I have that you want.

    I get that the Governor will personally never need state services because of his wealth, so he might unconsciously assume only Democrats want them. But how can you sleep at night when there are problems like this inflicted on the poor and vulnerable ? We live in a society.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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