Illinois Heads Toward Unwanted First Among States

'Junk' status looms amid budget impasse; Powerball sales suspended
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2017 5:21 AM CDT
Illinois' Budget Mess Means No Lottery Tickets
A customer buys a Powerball ticket June 8, 2017, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)

Illinois residents just got a tangible reminder about their state's budget impasse: As of Wednesday night, they can't buy Powerball tickets. And after Friday night, they won't be able to buy Mega Millions tickets. State lottery officials are suspending sales for a simple reason: They don't have the money to pay up, reports NBC News. "The groups that own and operate these two popular games will not permit Illinois to sell the games without funds available to pay prizes," says the state lottery website. Sales will resume whenever state lawmakers send along the money. What's more, anyone who wins any prize of $25,000 or more will have to wait to collect the money. More on the budget trouble:

  • A bad 'first': S&P Global Ratings plans to give Illinois a "junk" rating on its credit assuming no deal is reached by the deadline Saturday, reports CNN Money. It would be the first time any state has gotten that rating.
  • The impasse: This would be the third straight year Illinois has failed to pass a budget and the Chicago Tribune explains: "The central premise of the two-year standoff remains: Democrats and Republicans agree that a tax hike must be part of any solution, but (Republican Gov. Bruce) Rauner says the state also needs regulatory changes to spur economic growth." Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan "has resisted those calls, saying they would hurt middle-class workers at the expense of the wealthy." Democrats control both houses of the legislature.
  • 700 days: The state has now reached that mark without a budget, notes Bloomberg. "The self-inflicted crisis has left the fifth most-populous state with a record $14.5 billion of unpaid bills, ravaged entities like universities and social service providers that rely on state aid and undermined Illinois’s standing in the bond market."
  • Special session: Lawmakers are in special session trying to strike a deal, and the Chicago Sun-Times has the nitty gritty on negotiations. "The outlook for a deal wasn't good," per the AP.
  • Bailout? The way things are going, it's not far-fetched to predict that the federal government will have to intervene in the not-too-distant future, writes Ike Brannon at the Weekly Standard. "Should that occur, it’s a safe bet that everyone will share in the pain—taxpayers, bondholders, and public pensioners alike."
(More Illinois stories.)

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