CHICAGO - If state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner can't resolve their differences over a fiscal 2016 budget, the Illinois Hospitals Association is urging them to adopt a temporary spending plan to ensure there's no interruption in state payments.
"A lengthy state shutdown could jeopardize access to health care for the children, seniors and families in these communities," the association's president, Maryjane A. Wurth, said in a statement. "A significant delay in payments from the state could jeopardize hospitals' ability to meet their obligations - pay employees, vendors, and suppliers - and meet their operating expenses."
The association urged leaders not to let the new fiscal year begin July 1 without a backup plan in place.
"A temporary one-month budget should be considered to preserve access to essential health services until a final budget agreement is reached," the statement said.
Legislative leaders and the administration are throwing cold water on the suggestion, at least for the time being, and again traded barbs.
"An unbalanced short-term budget with no real reforms is still a phony budget and unacceptable to the people of Illinois," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in an email. "If Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls have any interest in real reform and compromise to grow the economy and end the era of wasteful spending and broken budgets, then there is no reason a deal can't be reached prior to July 1." Kelly was referring to House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat.
"There is still time for the governor to work with general assembly to implement a budget that reflects our joint priorities to protect the middle class and fund our schools," said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. "He has options. He doesn't have to shut down the state and threaten school funding in favor of his corporate class agenda."
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger has said many bills will not be paid if a budget is not in place by July 1.
The state can continue writing checks to cover debt service payments, pension contributions, and to pay retiree benefits under ongoing appropriation authority or other legal provisions related to those obligations. The comptroller's office also can continue to make most local government distributive aid payments, Munger said.
That's not the case for most other vouchers that cover payments to non-profits, social service providers, Medicaid providers, and small businesses.