Budget stalemate spills over to the Illinois lottery

The idiotic failure of Illinois's leaders to approve a state budget is wreaking a new round of havoc, but maybe the best way to explain it is to start with the state lottery and a new threat, once again, not to pay winners.

According to Leslie Geissler Munger, Comptroller of Illinois, payments will stop when we enter the new fiscal year on July 1.

"I think it's absurd, because you're still advocating the state lottery and you're still taking people's money," Chicago resident Mike Robinson said.

Lottery sales declined when the state delayed paying jackpots a few months ago. Eventually, the General Assembly and Gov. Rauner agreed to release the money, but that authority is about to expire. The lottery trouble is trivial, though, compared to what the budget battle is doing to state-supported universities, college scholarships for the poor and services for homeless children, drug-addicted parents and infants with HIV/AIDS.

"This budget stalemate is causing irreparable harm to the very people and organizations that our government exists to serve," Munger said.

None of that appeared to move Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. He had publicly promised that his Democratic-controlled chamber would work "continuously" to hammer out a budget but they didn't convene this week at all.

As a potential food shortage threatens state prison operations, Republican Rauner has sounded increasingly desperate for a deal. He's offered a stopgap, interim budget through January. Illinois would continue to spend billions of dollars more than it has. It's a big reason two Wall Street agencies once again lowered the state's credit rating.

Madigan issued a written statement about it, perhaps because he couldn't have kept a straight face if he read it in public:

"It's an outrage that we have gone nearly a year without a state budget. This downgrade is directly attributable to Governor Rauner ...." the statement reads.

Rauner's written reply was similarly filled with phrases he's used in a hundred previous statements:

He said the credit downgrade shows "the need for real structural changes to repair the years of unbalanced budgets and deficit spending by the majority party on Illinois' finances."