Illinois finally has a budget a year after impasse began

By Gary Scott on June 30, 2016 at 8:14pm

Illinois lawmakers have passed a “stopgap” budget.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed a six-month budget and education funding package that was passed through the Illinois House and Senate earlier on Thursday, after the state went a full fiscal year without a budget.

Here are the highlights of the budget: it provides 100 percent of the foundation formula for education funding and includes a quarter-billion-dollar grant for low-income schools, plus $75-million for early childhood education.

The bill includes money for capital and road projects, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, lottery payouts, and distribution of local government revenues. Plus, there’s nearly $700-million for social service programs, a billion dollars for higher education.

The bill passed the State Senate unanimously. Jacksonville State Senator Sam McCann.

“All schools will get at least what they got last year, and most will get more- many will get more dollars. That’s a good thing; schools need to be funded and need to be open on time. Transportation, infrastructure. We’re not going to see a shutdown of construction projects around the state, we’ll see those projects continue and hopefully be finished on time, and to everyone’s satisfaction. So, those are all the good things we’ll focus on today,” says McCann.

“But again, the toughest part of the job is yet to come.”

McCann explains that the “hard issues” of deciding how to come up with more revenue have been “put off” until after the election.

Jacksonville State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer voted “present” on the House floor.

In a statement to WLDS-WEAI News, Davidsmeyer said this: “Originally the funding bills were supposed to be two separate bills, one for Road funding and the other for a budget. After spending the last year and a half fighting for funded MAP grants, schools, and human services, unfortunately they added IDOT to the bill. Due to my job in road construction, I had to alleviate any perception of wrongdoing, I had to vote present.”

Davidsmeyer says he was “excited to finally have a compromise to vote for” and was disappointed when they were combined.

Governor Bruce Rauner says the next step is to work out a full, balanced budget after the November election.

“I believe, and I firmly hope, that right now, we’ve hit the bottom. This is the low point in the evolution of Illinois, and now, we begin to move up.”

   Rauner says he won’t sign a budget that is out of balance and won’t approve any tax increases without some of the reforms he has proposed.