Illinois Public Radio Budget Address Special
Governor Bruce Rauner presented his 2017 budget today, February 17. But we’re in uncharted territory here - because as we all know - we don’t have a 2016 budget.
There are so many questions about this budget impasse. What’s being funded? What isn’t? Who’s being affected by this? As taxpayers, what do you want to know about this situation?
During the hour before the governor’s speech we took your questions.
For our special coverage of the 2017 Illinois Budget Address we were joined by:
- Amanda Vinicky, Illinois Public Radio, Statehouse Bureau Chief, who joined us from the Capitol in Springfield.
- David Merriman is the co-director the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois's Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He is also a professor and economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has authored a new report, Consequences of Inaction: The Effects of the Budget Stalemate on Revenue and Spending at the Midpoint of Fiscal Year 2016.
- Stephanie Record is the executive director of Crisis Nursery in Champaign
- Jemmie Robertson chairs the Faculty Senate at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston
- Kent Redfield is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield and directs the Sunshine Project, a campaign finance research project funded by the Joyce Foundation.
“The most fundamental thing that can happen is that we have a cash flow crisis,” said Merriman, adding, "literally not having enough enough money in the bank to pay the bills.”
We’re not there yet, but he says that “the catastrophe has already happened for a lot of people. It’s hit in lots of human service agencies across the state, it’s starting to hit in some universities.”
Merriman said he supposed that “it becomes a really noticeable catastrophe to people when you start having large state universities that can’t open.”
In the case of Eastern Illinois University, Robertson said he sees a growing urgency as the academic calendar proceeds.
“It’s been particularly rough the last few weeks, especially last week with having to see 177 more of our colleagues receive layoff notices," said Robertson.
Record says that the Crisis Nursery has had to turn away families 600 different times last year. She says they need money the state promised them to expand their facilities and avoid turning away families who need their help in the future.
“Any time other social service agencies have to lay off staff or reduce services, we see the impact of that on families. So they’re not getting the services they need,” she said. “That adds to their parental stress and we’re seeing more families call us for help as well. So all the agencies work closely together in our community.”
"Words matter, but deeds matter more," said Redfield. He said he does not see the budget impasse resolved by November.