* For weeks now, I’ve tried without success to convince the comptroller’s office to provide a timeline of when everything blows up. At what point does Illinois not have the cash to pay crucial statutory-mandated bills? They know about how much revenue to expect every week and what the huge scheduled payments are (like pensions, school aid, bond payments, etc.), so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Yes, the Medicaid lawsuit throws a major wrench into the calculations, but, still, let’s see the numbers…
During the 2-and-a-half years Illinois has gone without a state budget, the previously little-known office of comptroller has had the unenviable job of essentially sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out how to pay the bills.
Like any household, there are some items that must be paid first. A mix of state law, court orders and pressure from credit rating agencies requires Illinois to make its debt and pension payments, for example, and issue state worker paychecks and some money for schools.
Now Comptroller Susana Mendoza is warning that new court orders in lawsuits filed by state suppliers that are owed money mean her office is required to pay out more than Illinois receives in revenue each month. That means there would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services.
“I don’t know what part of ‘We are in massive crisis mode’ the General Assembly and the governor don’t understand. This is not a false alarm,” said Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat. “The magic tricks run out after a while, and that’s where we’re at.”