Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Those who rely on state funding are left in limbo.

News from The Southern Springfield Bureau

Quinn: Social services that continue service risk not being paid for it

BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau
July 1, 2009

SPRINGFIELD -- It likely will be at least two weeks before Illinois gets a budget on the books.

Under a game plan that began emerging Wednesday, lawmakers will be called back to town July 14 to try and find some resolution to the stalemate that has left the state without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Members of the House and Senate left the Capitol Tuesday without approving an income tax hike. Without the added revenue, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would veto the budget sent to him by lawmakers in May because it doesn’t contain an enough money to keep state programs afloat for a full year.

Quinn was expected to issue his veto message Wednesday afternoon.

The impasse left many who rely on state funding in limbo. Quinn said social service agencies and others who provide services "do so at the risk of not being paid."

The effect on other state services may be virtually unnoticeable for at least a few more weeks. The first round of state worker paychecks for July doesn’t go out until the middle of the month.

"Until a budget is in place, the state has very limited authority to pay its vendors and grantees," Quinn noted in a statement issued Wednesday morning. "The state, however, will continue to operate and provide essential services to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Illinois citizens, such as maintaining prisons and providing emergency services and legally-required social services."

Quinn wants lawmakers to approve a 50 percent boost in the income tax rate as a way to generate an estimated $4 billion.

That revenue would help fill a budget deficit of $11.6 billion.

Lawmakers who have balked at an income tax hike said Quinn needs to show he’s ready to negotiate in good faith.

For example, state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, said Quinn should sign legislation enacting a statewide construction program because the added jobs could jumpstart the economy.

"He’s put all his marbles in the tax increase basket," Flider said.

Although Quinn could call lawmakers into session before July 14, legislative leaders say that date was set aside after they surveyed members to determine when they all would be available to resume negotiations.

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