The state of Illinois is officially operating without a budget. Governor Rob Blagojevich has reached out to state employees, pleading with them to continue reporting to work, even though the state no longer has the authority to pay them.
“Despite this prospect, I hope you will continue to perform your duties until a full year’s budget is in place. With your cooperation, the people who count on state government will experience no inconveniences,” Blagojevich wrote.
I have to believe that state officials will compromise and reach a budget soon, but in the meantime, I fear the state’s historic sites will be among the first to suffer.
For instance, yesterday’s Illinois State Journal-Register reported that the looming state government shutdown has already put the shooting of a promotional film in jeopardy.
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site was footing the $200,000 bill for the 20-minute, high definition film. Normally, a national historic site would not feel the effects of a state government shutdown, but this is a unique case.
Producers had planned on shooting several scenes at state historic sites throughout central Illinois, including the Old State Capitol, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, and Lincoln’s New Salem. Those are all state-run sites.
Without a budget, how much longer can these sites remain open?
Governor Blagojevich has already tapped the state’s contingency plans to keep essential state service operating. No word on whether state historic sites are considered “essential state services.”
This isn’t the first time the state has been operating without a budget. Illinois went 19 days without a budget in 1991 and a record 55 days in 2004.
Let me be among the first to say: "Don't Challenge the Record!"