State prisons, childcare facilities and many other state-run programs are struggling to fund essential services as yet another week passes without any progress made to fix the $1.6 billion budget hole advanced by Democrat leaders in the current budget. Though Gov. Rauner has repeatedly asked for the tools to fix the crisis created by his Democrat predecessor, Democrat leaders in the House and Senate have continued to delay a resolution to repair the deficit they caused.
By failing to make accommodations for the expiration of their income tax hike, Democrat leaders knowingly approved an unbalanced budget last year that they admitted would severely underfund many state programs.
The current budget underfunded the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Aftercare program by $5.3 million. As a result, kids are hanging in the balance who desperately need the rehabilitation services intended to promote positive reintegration in their community and reduce recidivism.
Additionally, Democrat leaders also underfunded the Child Care Assistance Program by $300 million, and now it is no longer receiving state assistance. As a result, families have been disrupted and child-care providers are left scrambling.
Furthermore, the Department of Corrections will run out of money to pay guards by mid-April, and the fund to pay court reporters will run out even sooner. That could result in disruption of court activity, and dangerous uncertainty at state prisons.
Gov. Rauner has asked for greater spending authority that would allow him to transfer funds to agencies facings shortfalls. While Democrat leaders claim a resolution to the issue is close, for many struggling agencies, it is not close enough.
Just as frustrating for Senate Republicans, rather than addressing the problem at hand, Democrat lawmakers continue to introduce billions of dollars in new legislative initiatives that the state cannot afford. Senate GOP legislators stress that the focus should be on funding the state’s current priorities rather than exploring new ways to spend taxpayer dollars.