Although a deal may be imminent, the federal government shutdown continues and it has already negatively impacted the Illinois Statehouse. For the current state fiscal year, slightly more than $8 billion of the $64 billion operating budget is from federal funds, totaling 11 percent of the state’s total FY 2014 budget. Like the federal government negotiations, the situation in Springfield is fluid.
The State of Illinois was forced to temporarily layoff nearly 100 people because of the federal shutdown. Those workers, which included employees at the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, were paid from federal funds. Others impacted included state OSHA inspectors and economic analysts. Although 70 of those workers were back on the job by the end of this week, Governor Pat Quinn stated that more layoffs could occur if a solution isn’t found soon in Washington D.C. The only good news is that so far, the numbers aren’t close to the last federal government shutdown in 1995 when the state had to temporarily lay off 1,200 employees.
To get a sense of how federal funding impacts Illinois state government, consider that in the current state fiscal year, federal funds comprise the following percentages of some Illinois state agency budgets:
• Aging – 13%
• Agriculture – 13%
• Emergency Management – 26%
• Human Rights – 28%
• Children and Family Services – 40%
• Labor – 42%
• Commerce and Economic Opportunity – 42%
• Public Health – 47%
• Military Affairs – 62%
• Employment Security – 92%
Beyond the agencies, areas like higher education (9 percent) and elementary and secondary education (23 percent) are also affected. Needless to say, with Illinois’ 9.2 percent unemployment rate and $100 billion in unfunded pension liability, it does not need more problems because of Beltway squabbling.
The federal budget impasse and the battle over raising the debt ceiling have unnerved most Americans according to polls. But just imagine how ticked off the Illinois state employee must be who was temporarily laid off on October 1st, then brought back on October 10th, who then has to worry that this may only last through Thanksgiving if there is only a six-week extension of federal funding and the layoffs happen again. Then there is also the possibility of being laid off again in January when the next sequester cuts kick in. It probably makes that person question why in the world they joined the Illinois National Guard (aka the Illinois Department of Military Affairs).