As the state continues to operate despite the ongoing budget
stalemate, a number of services and programs have turned to the court system to
enforce state payment. As a result, the courts have become increasingly
involved in dictating state expenditures, with many programs and services being
funded through court orders and consent decrees.
As it currently stands, it’s estimated that the state will
spend $13.7 billion to fund payments appropriated or upheld through these court
orders and consent decrees. This includes funding for statewide Medicaid
payments, DCFS and Department of Juvenile Justice programs, Early Intervention
funding, and state employee salaries.
When adding the court-ordered spending to the predicted
$18.4 billion the state is paying due to continuing, statutory, or enacted
appropriations, it’s estimated the state is on track to have spent just over
the anticipated revenue intake of $32 billion for the coming fiscal year—though
more than $5 billion in state services and programs remain unfunded. Examples
of programs yet to be funded include the entire higher education system, the
state’s Group Health Insurance Program, non-federally funded public health
programs, the Monetary Award Program, and Autism grants.
Senate Republicans have warned that continuing down a
spending path that exceeds revenue intake will only cause more issues in the
long run, burdening taxpayers and leaving programs underfunded.
Rather than allowing the courts to appropriate funds without
reforms, Republican Senators continue to push for a balanced budget that aligns
spending with state revenue, while providing for the state’s most vulnerable.