A standoff in Illinois between its GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan over spending and term limits has left the state without a budget for two years – and an unpaid backlog of $14.6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A fiscal train wreck could get even worse, the Journal reported, with billions of dollars in road projects scheduled to grind to a halt on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the newspaper reported.
At this dismal point, however, some social-services agencies have given up on receiving state funding, and others have closed entirely, leaving some rural communities without mental-health clinics, domestic-violence shelters and drug-treatment clinics, despite an opioid crisis gripping some towns downstate, the Journal reported.
And at Eastern Illinois University, state funding has taken a $53 million hit as average funding levels have steadily declined over the last five years the Journal reported. Its enrollment hit a peak less than a decade ago by 12,000; it dropped to 7,400 last fall.
The crisis has apparently triggered a population exodus as well, the Journal reported; Illinois has lost more residents than any other American state for the third year in a row, with 90 percent of the state’s counties seeing a drop in population, shrinking the state’s tax base.
In 2016, a net of 37,508 people left, according to census data, putting the population at its lowest in nearly a decade.
"Right now, our state is in real crisis," Rauner declared last week ahead of a special legislative session that's underway, the Journal reported.
Any solution state lawmakers come up with will need a three-fifths legislative majority to pass, the Journal reported; S&P Global Ratings warned it could lower the state’s rating to junk as early as this week if it doesn’t pass a budget.
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