If a “grand bargain” does not come together in the Illinois Senate, Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget will have a $7 billion hole in it.
That’s according to Rauner’s budget director, Scott Harry, who insists the governor’s budget is balanced… if the grand bargain comes together and lawmakers adopt some of the “structural changes” that Rauner has been demanding, and the legislature has been resisting.
There are a bunch of stories out there like that right now, and they’re wrong. They may have been based on this AP headline…
The Latest: Budget numbers show deficit of up to $7 billion
* Finke has the real story…
The gap between spending and revenue in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plan could hit $7 billion if lawmakers don’t approve money-saving ideas sought by the governor, Rauner’s budget director told Illinois senators Thursday.
Budget director Scott Harry told members of the Senate’s two appropriations committees that there are about $3 billion in savings proposals contained in the spending plan Rauner submitted to the General Assembly Wednesday. Those proposals include such things as changing state employee health insurance, creating a new pension plan for newly hired workers and selling the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.
Those savings proposals, though, are contingent on action by the General Assembly. If they are enacted, the gap between spending and revenues would be about $4.5 billion which the budget proposal said would be covered by components in the Senate’s “grand bargain” that is still being negotiated.
“The maintenance, auto-pilot budget if there were no changes in law would have a deficit of $7.2 billion,” Harry said. “But the governor has requested authority …; to balance the budget. If the governor is given that authority to make spending reductions, the state will be in much better spot than letting the status quo continue and having courts and consent decrees dictate spending.”
The governor’s budget takes that $7.2 billion hole down to a still very large $4.6 billion hole. There are plenty of legit questions about whether he can pass legislation to do that, and the Senate’s “grand bargain” starts addressing the current fiscal year’s problems, so that would help, too.
In other words, $7.2 billion is what happens if nothing is done this fiscal year and nothing is done next fiscal year. And that number doesn’t include leftover unpaid bills from this fiscal year. That’s just FY18 expenditures compared to revenues.