No budget, no break: Illinois governor says lawmakers will stay in session as long as it takes
If Illinois legislators fail to send Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a budget by Friday, he said he'll extend a legislative special session until they "get the job done."
He issued that statement Wednesday afternoon, the eighth day of the special session. The new fiscal year starts Saturday, and should no agreement come before then, Illinois will enter a third straight year without a spending plan.
Also, Wednesday, a statewide property tax freeze that Rauner has demanded as part of a deal to end the budget stalemate failed in the House by one vote. It would have set a four-year freeze on the nation's next-to-highest property taxes.
But it would have exempted Chicago, the city's school system, and 17 other financially distressed school districts, as well as many cities' payments on long-term debt and their contributions to police and fire pension systems.
Rauner called lawmakers back to Springfield last week after they blew past a critical budget deadline in May. Now any budget deal will require a three-fifths majority vote instead of a simple majority.
Several dueling budget plans are before the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, along with proposals for pro-business reforms that Rauner has demanded.
The budget impasse has affected countless state services, left the state with a multi-billion-dollar deficit and could drag the state’s credit rating down to “junk” status. The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits schools in the Midwest, recently said that the deep cuts in funding to state universities put the schools at risk of losing their accreditation. The state's universities haven't received funding since 2016.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale President Randy Dunn said losing accreditation could make it difficult to hire more staff.