With each passing day, it grows less likely that the budgetary standoff in Springfield will be resolved before the current budget expires on June 30th. Governor Rauner continues to tie his support for the revenues needed to balance the budget to his demand that legislators enact key elements of his so-called ‘turnaround’ agenda.
The governor claims the changes he wants are needed to provide long-term solutions for Illinois’ fiscal woes. But there isn’t a shred of evidence that any of his proposals would make our state more prudent or fiscally responsible over the long term.
Rather, it is only too clear that Gov. Rauner is holding the state budget—and the vital services on which citizens depend—hostage to his obsession with weakening labor unions and driving down the income of middle-class families.
Fortunately, legislators have refused to give in to the governor’s extreme demands, which include taking away the right of public employees to bargain over wages, health care, and essential workplace concerns. Unfortunately, the governor has thus far given no indication that he is prepared to work constructively toward shaping a fair and balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.
So state employees must begin now to prepare for the uncertainty we will face if July 1 dawns without any budget in place. While that has happened under previous administrations, there is no way to know how this governor will handle such a crisis.
To help you meet the challenges that could arise without an operating budget, here is the best information that the union has at this time:
Previous governors who faced a ‘no budget’ situation have always done everything possible to keep state government functioning because they did not want to disrupt the vital services on which citizens depend. All employees were told to report to work and assured that they would eventually be paid. We hope that Governor Rauner would take this same approach.
Contrary to public statements made by the Illinois Comptroller, even in the event there is no budget in place, virtually all state employees should still receive their first paycheck in July (on or about July 15) as those paychecks will be for work performed in the FY 15 fiscal year. AFSCME is contacting the Comptroller to cite the relevant statute and urge her to act accordingly.
Even if the Comptroller agrees to issue those paychecks, it is very likely that she will take the position that she cannot issue paychecks due on or about July 31st, should the crisis continue to that point. As the union has done during previous budgetary standoffs, AFSCME intends to take legal action as swiftly as possible seeking to compel payment of wages due so that employees will not face any ‘payless paydays’.
In past budget crises, there was no interruption in employee health care coverage. The union anticipates that the same policy will remain in effect in this situation.
As you know, not only does this budget standoff affect state employees and the vital work you perform, it also could have a negative impact on local governments, nonprofit agencies, small businesses and others who rely on state funds. That’s not good for our state or its economy.
There is no doubt that the best course of action would be for the governor and legislators to focus on shaping a budget that meets the needs of Illinois citizens and on raising the revenues needed to fund it.
You can be assured that AFSCME will continue to press for such a resolution.