SPRINGFIELD – On our 701st day without a budget, two more bond rating agencies gave Illinois the 7th and 8th credit downgrades since Gov. Rauner took office 2 ½ years ago. Before he took office, Illinois had been paying its backlog of bills down. It got down to less than $5 billion. In just two years of his failed leadership, he has about tripled that stack of unpaid bills to $14.5 billion and growing. Both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s dropped the state to one grade above junk status Thursday.
While all sides could try harder to compromise toward a budget solution as the General Assembly has with every previous governor, business groups and independent third parties put the blame for Illinois’ crisis mainly on Governor Rauner. Standard & Poor’s said in its last assessment: “Illinois’ fiscal crisis is, in our view, a man-made byproduct of policy ultimatums placed on the state budget process.” In other words, Governor Rauner has created and now owns this crisis.
In the meantime, our office will continue triaging how to make payments to Illinois’ struggling schools, nursing homes, hospice centers and aging facilities from a near-empty bank account. We’re about to reach the breaking point at which court-ordered payments will exceed the state’s revenues. Illinois’ sick, elderly, young, and most vulnerable are paying the price. This crisis is untenable, unconscionable, and unnecessary. It’s time that the Governor stop campaigning and take responsibility for his failures and fulfill his constitutional mandate to introduce a balanced budget.
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