The Latest: Comptroller paints dire picture without budget

The Latest on a legislative special session in Springfield as the state of Illinois nears the start of a third straight fiscal year without a budget (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Illinois state comptroller Susana Mendoza is warning that even the autopilot state government will fall nearly $200 million short in August without a state budget.

The Democratic comptroller posted a YouTube video Wednesday laying out in painful detail the consequences of having no budget agreement by the Saturday start of the fiscal year.

Government has continued to function on court-ordered payments. But she says even required payments will outstrip revenue by $185 million by August.

Mendoza says the two-year budget stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature have created a “series of disasters.”

But she says without a budget deal soon: “It’s going to get much worse very quickly.”

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6:45 p.m.

A House Republican negotiating issues around a budget deal remains hopeful that Democrats will continue talks on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s must-have agenda.

Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon says House votes Wednesday on a property-tax freeze, cost-cutting changes to workers’ compensation and pension benefits, and government consolidation were “premature.”

They’re issues Republican Rauner insists on having prior to sealing a budget deal for the first time in two years. All but the property tax freeze won approval.

But GOP members object to provisions in each.

Demmer says House Democrats need GOP help to get the 71 votes necessary to approve a budget and the likely tax increase to fund it. So he says Democrats will continue negotiating or will have to “go it alone” on passing a budget.

Lawmakers are trying to beat a Saturday deadline. That’s when a new fiscal year starts.

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5:25 p.m.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner not to throw in the towel yet on getting budget deal by Saturday.

Republican Rauner issued a statement Wednesday that daily special sessions would continue until there’s a spending-plan agreement if lawmakers miss the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

Cullerton is a Chicago Democrat. Spokesman John Patterson issued a statement asking Rauner to use the rest of the week to work on a pact.

The statement said: “Now is not the time for the governor to give up. Now is the time to find agreement. People are counting on us.”

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The state has been without a budget for two years. If there’s no deal by Saturday, bond-rating houses have threatened to label the state’s creditworthiness “junk.”

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4 p.m.

Illinois lawmakers have directed the state’s auditor general to investigate a lease deal signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

Senate action Wednesday authorized the audit after earlier House approval.

The review will focus on a five-year, $2.4 million lease of a former furniture store in Springfield. Illinois Department of Human Services records that had been stored in a state-owned building at the vacant Dwight Correctional Center were moved to the Springfield site.

Rep. David McSweeney is a Barrington Hills Republican who sponsored the resolution in the House. He says he wants answers about why the state is leasing storage space when it has vacant space that it owns for less money.

The resolution also halts new lease agreements during the review. Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza has agreed to the bar on leases.

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The resolution is HJR63 .

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3:55 p.m.

The House has approved legislation to revamp the workers’ compensation system and pension programs and to make it easier for superfluous units of local government to be consolidated or eliminated.

The issues are critical to getting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to agree to a state budget deal. But Republicans objected to each measure.

The workers’ comp bill includes a provision that requires insurance companies providing coverage for businesses to have their premium rates approved by state regulators. Rauner has opposed that. It won approval 64-48 and moves to the Senate.

The pension legislation is aimed at closing a $130 billion gap in what’s necessary to cover retirement-pay obligations for retired and current state employees and teachers. It was approved 61-41 and goes to the Senate.

The consolidation bill was OK’d 61-45 and awaits Senate action.

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The bills are HB200 , HB4045 and HB171 .

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3:25 p.m.

Lottery players in Illinois won’t be able to buy Mega Millions or Powerball tickets after this week because of the state’s budget impasse.

Illinois Lottery officials say Powerball ticket sales in Illinois will be suspended at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, just ahead of the drawing. Ticket sales for Mega Millions will be suspended at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.

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Lawmakers are meeting at the Capitol in a special session to try and come to an agreement before the start of the July 1 fiscal year. But if there’s no budget deal before Saturday, the impasse will stretch into a third straight year.

Lottery officials say when there’s a budget, Mega Millions sales will resume. For Powerball, state officials will have to work with the Multi-State Lottery Association to figure out next steps after there’s a budget.

Officials have already said that payouts over $25,000 will be delayed. The same thing happened in 2015, resulting in lawsuits. The money was eventually approved through new legislation.

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3:15 p.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says if legislators fail to send him a budget by Friday, he’ll extend a legislative special session until they “get the job done.”

The Republican issued the news in a statement Wednesday afternoon as lawmakers met in special session for an eighth straight day at the Capitol. The new fiscal year starts Saturday. If legislators fail to reach an agreement before then, Illinois will enter a third straight year without a spending plan.

Rauner called lawmakers back to Springfield last week after they blew past a critical budget deadline last month. Now any budget deal will require a three-fifths majority vote instead of a simple majority.

Several dueling budget plans are before the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, along with proposals for pro-business reforms that Rauner has demanded.

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2:55 p.m.

A statewide property tax freeze demanded by Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of a deal to end a two-year budget stalemate has failed in the House.

The 59-46 tally Wednesday fell 12 votes short of the number necessary to take immediate effect.

It would have created a four-year freeze on the nation’s next-to-highest property taxes. But it would have exempted Chicago, the city’s school system and 17 other financially distressed school districts. It also would have exempted many cities’ payments on long-term debt and their contributions to police and fire pension systems.

The sponsor was House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie. The Chicago Democrat says it went further than she even wanted. But she says it was crucial to getting Republican Rauner’s agreement to the state’s first budget deal since 2015.

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The bill is SB484 .

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12:05 p.m.

House Democrats are advancing legislation this week designed to get a budget deal by appeasing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on the tangential issues he’s demanded.

But a spending plan that has been absent in Illinois for two years appears doomed in advance of Saturday’s start of another fiscal year. That’s because House Speaker Michael Madigan is making his own non-budget demands.

The Chicago Democrat wants Rauner to sign an education funding overall, OK insurance-rate regulation in workers’ compensation and more.

That’s unlikely. Madigan says, “That’s his decision, not my decision.”

Madigan plans floor votes Wednesday on issues tangential to the budget that Republican Rauner has insisted upon for two years. They include cost-cutting changes to workers’ compensation, government consolidation and a property tax freeze.

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4:50 a.m.

Illinois lawmakers are continuing efforts to seal a state budget deal.

House Democrats could call a vote Wednesday on a statewide property tax freeze that would make exceptions for Chicago, distressed school districts and cities trying to pay off long-term debt and make contributions to police and fire pension programs.

The property tax freeze is a long-standing demand of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in exchange for the state’s first budget in two years.

Republicans will examine a budget presented to them Tuesday. House Democrats said it’s a $36.5 billion outline dependent on $5 billion in increased income taxes. It also cuts spending by $3 billion and boosts education spending by $350 million.

Lawmakers face a deadline of Friday for agreeing to a budget before a new fiscal year begins Saturday.

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