Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

June 29, 2009

Fiscal year deadline looms; does Illinois shut down?

(Continued)



Public schools aren’t immediately in jeopardy because they don’t receive any state aid payments in July. Agencies can still purchase commodities — gas for state police squad cars, for instance — because they buy on credit.

And welfare checks to low-income families continue uninterrupted thanks to a 1993 court ruling that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Medicaid cannot be halted because they are paid in part with federal funds.

The date to watch is July 15, the first pay day in the new budget year, according to state Comptroller Dan Hynes’ office.

Those getting paid that day are staff members working for constitutional officers, such as the governor, treasurer and attorney general, and payroll information has to be sent to the comptroller by July 9, although there’s a little leeway on that deadline, Hynes spokeswoman Carol Knowles said.

Pay deadlines for other groups of employees follow on subsequent days.

“When July 1 comes, if there isn’t a budget, you can pretty much go until mid-month until things start to be a problem,” Knowles said.

And it would be a problem. In 2007, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and lawmakers agreed to a one-month budget for July, but it expired without action in August. Blagojevich told Hynes to write paychecks anyway, but Hynes maintained that he needed an authorized budget to do so.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued Hynes, and a Christian County judge brokered a deal that allowed state employees to be paid in August, but ruled that in the future, the comptroller may not cut paychecks unless he had a budget or a court order in hand.

“It is wearying,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said of the annual budget wrangling. “People are sick of the games, sick of the posturing, tired of the excuses and have every reason to be sick of the uncertainty.”

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