SIU President Randy Dunn’s speech on the university system’s status points out an interesting new wrinkle to the state budget stalemate, or as we prefer to call it, “Illinois Held Hostage: Day 88.”
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services’ chronically late payments on behalf of state workers to doctors, dentists, pharmacies and other health care providers serving state employees — an eight month lag in some cases — is about to halt completely. They ran out of 2015 funds, according to a memo from Sept. 18. They claim no legal authority to spend from the 2016 budget that lawmakers since July 1 have failed to pass.
Some doctors are now asking for up-front payments from state workers.
Then Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger came to town talking about state spending careening out of control with court orders and mandates instead of a budget to guide it. Spending is at 90 percent of last year’s levels, yet revenue is dropping by 18 percent because the state income tax rate dropped.
Bottom line: $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the year.
There would be no shock if state lawmakers allow the budget standoff to go until the new year. Now they need a supermajority to pass the $6 billion deficit budget they advocate, but in January then need a simple majority.
How much more financial mayhem will the Springfield playmakers create? Expect to be amazed, because the cost of this game comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, not theirs.