· No progress on Illinois budget; Moody’s warns Illinois of further downgrades. While the Illinois House has held a series of “pro forma” hearings on the budgetary requests and needs of Illinois state agencies, there are no State budget numbers for FY17 or FY18. FY17 is ending on June 30, 2017, without a written budget, and FY18 will start on July 1, 2018. Under State law and the Constitution of Illinois, the General Assembly is mandated to approve a balanced budget that will guide State spending for the approaching fiscal year. The Constitution requires that this budget not commit to spend more money than is expected to come in during the fiscal year. The legislature did not fulfill this mandate for FY17, and is not making progress to do this for FY18. As March 2017 ended, Illinois had more than $12 billion in unpaid bills on file with or under the supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of Illinois.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, and members of the House Republican Caucus and leadership team, joined this week to call for the House to take action on the State budget in fulfillment of its responsibilities. Durkin and his team pointed out that progress toward a budget is still possible if the public sector undertakes serious structural reforms, including pension reform, to reduce its long-term commitments. Moody’s Investors Service warned this week that continued non-action by Illinois on the current budget situation risks further downgrades of our State’s credit rating, possibly down to or below “junk bond” level. The warning was issued on Thursday, March 30.
Continued decline in Illinois’s demographic standing relative to other states, continued cuts in the credit rating that governs the interest rates paid by State institutions, and concerns in the worldwide business community about Illinois’ future make immediate action necessary. “The Spring legislative session is now almost half over, with no movement toward a budget resolution,” said freshman Representative Ryan Spain. “Little in the way of meaningful reforms have been debated, and there is dwindling time for substantive action on behalf of those we serve.”