Courts driving state funding

As the state continues to operate despite the ongoing budget stalemate, a number of services and programs have turned to the court system to enforce state payment. As a result, the courts have become increasingly involved in dictating state expenditures, with many programs and services being funded through court orders and consent decrees. 

As it currently stands, it’s estimated that the state will spend $13.7 billion to fund payments appropriated or upheld through these court orders and consent decrees. This includes funding for statewide Medicaid payments, DCFS and Department of Juvenile Justice programs, Early Intervention funding, and state employee salaries.

When adding the court-ordered spending to the predicted $18.4 billion the state is paying due to continuing, statutory, or enacted appropriations, it’s estimated the state is on track to have spent just over the anticipated revenue intake of $32 billion for the coming fiscal year—though more than $5 billion in state services and programs remain unfunded. Examples of programs yet to be funded include the entire higher education system, the state’s Group Health Insurance Program, non-federally funded public health programs, the Monetary Award Program, and Autism grants.

Senate Republicans have warned that continuing down a spending path that exceeds revenue intake will only cause more issues in the long run, burdening taxpayers and leaving programs underfunded.

Rather than allowing the courts to appropriate funds without reforms, Republican Senators continue to push for a balanced budget that aligns spending with state revenue, while providing for the state’s most vulnerable.

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