Illinois is supposed to have a new state budget by July 1. But almost no one at the state Capitol believes that will happen.
So when must Illinois have a new budget? July 1 is the first day of the new fiscal year. July 15 is the first state payday in the new fiscal year. Neither of those days, as Illinois saw last year, are drop-dead dates.
Illinois' next crucial budget date comes in late August when schools are supposed to receive their first state payment. "If we're through August, that's kind of a telltale," state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, said.
In 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a standalone education budget. This year, Sandack said Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, hasn't given the governor that option.
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About a dozen schools may not have the money to open in August. Hundreds more have said they may not have enough money to make it through a full school year.
"This is a real chicken game," state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said. "It could backfire on the speaker or it could backfire on the governor. I guess I wouldn't be that big of a gambler."
If Illinois schools do find a way to limp through, the next date for lawmakers would be Election Day. If there's no budget after the November election, both Sandack and Verschoore said it could be January 2017. Or January 2019.
"I even heard that as long as Rauner is governor, we won't have a budget," Verschoore said. "I'm hoping that's not the case."
Sandack said the budget fight now is almost entirely political. And he doesn't have much hope it will end soon. "The speaker doesn't feel any pressure. There is no political pressure from his district."
Illinois lawmakers were supposed to be in Springfield for a "continuous summer session" each Wednesday in June. But Madigan has canceled the first three dates.