While the nation contemplates the results of the presidential elections, Illinois families continue to bear the brunt of a never-ending budget impasse. Despite both political parties having wins & losses on Tuesday, our state is no closer to passing a real budget and the temporary stop-gap funding runs out next month.
Things are so bleak, that a coalition of 97 social service providers has appealed to Illinois’ Supreme Court to hear their case against the Governor, the Comptroller and 7 department heads, to recover over $161 Million owed to them for services provided since July 2015. Meanwhile, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger has continued to make on-time payments to Wall Street banks like Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, every single month. In FY 2016 alone, the Comptroller paid out $129 million to big banks in fee payments on toxic swap deals. The Rauner Administration made a clear choice to honor the agreements the state has with Wall Street banks, while ignoring the contracts we have with those agencies that provide services for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents.
On Tuesday, Illinois voters chose to elect a new comptroller, Susana Mendoza. The comptroller-elect has been critical of the Governor’s priorities and the budget impasse.
Since the Comptroller is the “keeper of the state’s checkbook” (as described by out-going Comptroller Leslie Munger), maybe Illinois’s families will begin to see a shift in the state’s misplaced priorities. Instead of paying banks millions of dollars per month on toxic swap deals, maybe we will see funds shifted to social service providers who are being forced to shutter their doors, leaving Illinois’s most vulnerable families literally out in the cold. Only time will tell.
*Also of note:The day before Illinois elected a new comptroller, Governor Rauner signed new bank deals with JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and State Street Bank worth more than $600 million. These deals expire the day after the 2018 Gubernatorial election. The deals require Illinois taxpayers to pay these 4 banks more than $600 million over the next two years, or face significant penalty costs. Those much needed resources could instead fund real investments in our communities, including MAP grants for over 200,000 college students, and child care services for over 90,000 families.