Subscribe for 33¢ / day

If we're lucky, the General Assembly will approve an interim budget to avoid a government shutdown for 30 days and the governor will sign it before the stroke of midnight Saturday.

But the sigh of relief will be a small one because the 30-day reprieve only buys time.

It's kind of like taking an aspirin for a heart attack. You still need to address the underlying problems.

Those underlying problems include the need to meet current obligations before taking on new ones.

But the most immediate problem is making sure the government doesn't grind to a halt while Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Mike Madigan bicker and Republicans try to remind them they need their votes, too.

Although a tentative agreement has been outlined, such agreements have been known to fall apart.

Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has outlined what's at stake

w If there is no budget approved by July 9, nearly 5,000 state employees won't get their paychecks on time.

w Another 8,150 state employees will be affected if the impasse continues beyond July 16.

w Add another 9,300 workers after July 19.

w By July 23, the impact will spread to an additional 16,800 employees.

w Add 28,000 more, including employees of the Department of Corrections, if the stalemate drags on beyond July 25.

But state employees are not the only ones that would be affected. As noted in an earlier editorial ("Show leadership; avoid state government shutdown," OurViews, June 24) people who provide services through state contracts, such as care for the developmentally disabled, also would see payments delayed - even beyond the delays already experienced with a budget.

A 30-day interim budget is only a "Band-Aid," as state Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, aptly described it.

Meanwhile, many of the same businesses waiting for the state to pay for their services are also dealing with an increase in the state minimum wage that takes effect July 1.

You don't suppose the state would postpone the effective date of that law the way they have postponed agreement on a full-year budget? And even if they did, that would have a negative impact on workers who are expecting raises.

Therefore, with no prospect of an agreement for a full-year budget on the horizon, the 30-day stop-gap measure is preferable to the chaos of a government shutdown.

In case you're wondering, pay day for state officers - including lawmakers, the governor and other constitutional officers - is July 31.

Odds are they'll see to it that they make that deadline.


Load comments