Gov. Rod Blagojevich is preparing to implement “contingency plans” for operating state government if neither a permanent nor a temporary budget is in place by midnight today (Tuesday).

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is preparing to implement “contingency plans” for operating state government if neither a permanent nor a temporary budget is in place by midnight today (Tuesday).


However, Comptroller Dan Hynes said Monday that state government can continue to operate without disruption until at least Aug. 8, which is a deadline for processing school-aid payments and a payroll for about 5,000 state employees.


During a bill-signing ceremony in Farmersville, Blagojevich said contingency arrangements have been made to keep essential state services running if a temporary budget is allowed to expire at midnight. The governor did not elaborate on those plans.


Later, Blagojevich spokesman Justin DeJong said, “The state has contingency operations plans that are to be used in case of emergency, and on Aug. 1, we will begin putting those plans into motion.” He, too, declined to elaborate, although he said the plans do not call for the immediate closure of either state parks or historic sites.


Lawmakers were supposed to have passed a new state budget by July 1. Unable to agree on a permanent spending plan, they approved a one-month budget.


Blagojevich wants lawmakers to pass another one-month budget to keep the state operating while negotiations continue. The four legislative leaders, though, aren’t inclined to support another one-month budget and instead are working on a permanent plan.


At a Statehouse news conference Monday, Hynes said there is no need for hasty action even if the state has no budget of any kind in place by August.


“The reality is that the state can operate and should operate without disruption until Aug. 8,” said Hynes, whose office writes checks for state expenses but will lose that authority without a budget. “At that date, we would miss the first state payroll and we would miss the first state aid payment to our schools. I am calling on all constitutional officers and agency directors to keep their office open until Aug. 8 at least.”


Hynes said he has ordered his employees to report to work Aug. 1 with or without a budget in place. Spokesmen for Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Attorney General Lisa Madigan all said Monday that employees of those offices are expected to continue working even if no budget is approved. Secretary of State Jesse White previously told his employees they, too, are expected to continue working.


The next critical day in the budget impasse is a week from Wednesday, Hynes said. Without a budget in place by then, the state won’t be able to make a $170 million aid payment to schools and will miss processing a payroll for 4,900 executive office employees with the comptroller, treasurer, lieutenant governor, attorney general and governor’s office.


“We have to focus on Aug. 8 as a deadline because it is real,” Hynes said. “On that day, it won’t be an arbitrary deadline, it will be a deadline that hurts people.”


The four legislative leaders have been meeting without Blagojevich in the room to fashion a full-year spending plan. Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, said last week he didn’t view Aug. 1 as a critical date to complete a budget.


The four leaders met for about two hours Monday, and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, emerged afterward to say that today (Tuesday) is not a deadline to act.


“We all believe that the next several days is the important time,” Cross said.

Even without a budget, some state payments will continue, Hynes said.  Checks to state retirees, welfare recipients and bond-holders must all be paid even with no budget.


Others, though, will be out of luck.


Hynes said his office would normally write about $100 million a day in checks for Medicaid payments, child care, equipment and other expenses. Those payments will not be made without a budget.


Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or