Budget stalemate continues; Comptroller Munger issues financial update

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger told Illinoisans on Friday, October 16 that the State’s unpaid bills, in the absence of budgeted appropriations for FY16, have reached $6.9 billion. Based on the assumption that no significant changes will alter current trends, the State’s backlog of unpaid bills will be about $8.5 billion by December 31, 2015.

While many subsets of the FY16 budget are being protected by at least 14 separate court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations laws, not all of the budget is so protected. A major November 2015 pension payment of approximately $560 million, required by certified actuarial projections, is expected to be delayed. Payments due to many nonprofit socials service providers, Illinois university students and their institutions of higher education, counties, municipalities, 9-1-1 emergency call centers, and many other vendors are facing delay. Layoffs are taking place due to the inability of the State of Illinois to enact a constitutionally balanced budget.

Action once again delayed on State budget, other key issues.
The Illinois House and Senate met in fall session on Tuesday, October 20, but House Democrats did not take substantive action on the general funds portion of the FY16 budget. As noted above, the General Assembly took action to select a new Auditor General. Testimony on the budget was heard, and the Democrats moved amendments to a bill to appropriate money from GRF and “other State funds” for various individual line items related to the testimony.

This week’s General Assembly action did not replenish the exhausted State general funds balance that forms the heart of the current unbalanced-status of the State budget. Nothing in this action was expected to affect the State’s declining debt and credit ratings. The next General Assembly session day is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10.

Ex-State superintendent of schools collected nearly $207,000 on way out the door.
An investigation by the Chicago Tribune showed a substantial transfer of public funds to ex-State Superintendent of Schools Christopher Koch earlier this year. The payment was approved and made in conjunction with former Superintendent Koch’s agreement to leave office. Governor Rauner appointed the current schools chief, Tony Smith, in Koch’s place.

The Illinois State Board of Education is the supervisory board over elementary, high school and K-12 school districts of Illinois. It is a quasi-nonpartisan board whose members are appointed by the Governor. It has the currently controversial duty of examining and enforcing local school district compliance with a wide variety of standardized test mandates, including mandates intended to enforce so-called “Common Core” standards. ISBE oversees the certification and re-certification of teachers and other educator professionals, monitors the financial integrity of school district finances, and performs other mandated oversight tasks.

Superintendent Koch, like previous superintendents, served a fixed term and left after his term expired. The Board paid Koch $89,000 in formal severance pay, and an additional $118,000 for Koch’s 138.5 unused vacation days. Koch has returned to the private sector.