Legislative Session Alert: Temporary Budget Outline Drafted; Now It's Up To The Leaders

Jun 23, 2016

House Speaker Michael Madigan
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Legislators who've been privately working for the past month to craft a temporary budget have one drafted, but that doesn't make it a done deal.

The strain of going nearly a year without a budget coupled with doubt that a full deal can be reached for in the near future have made a stopgap budget the priority.

"There's positive momentum, and certainly the ability to get a stopgap done," Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, who's part of the bipartisan group, said Thursday.

She says the group's work is done -- mostly.

Outstanding issues remain. Namely how much money should go into education (Democrats' previous plans send hundreds of millions of dollars more than Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed, something he has characterized as Democratic leaders' attempt to "bailout" Chicago Public Schools), and whether Republicans will agree to state funding for autism, homelessness prevention and after school programs.

"So I think the real next step is that the leaders need to meet, take up what we've done and make some final decisions on that," Steans says.

The leaders: as in Gov. Rauner, and Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, who head up supermajorities in the House and Senate.

Wednesday will be a key test to see if the feuding leaders can do it; legislators are scheduled to meet in Springfield then for the first time since May.

That's just days before the new fiscal year begins on July First.

It'll be the first meeting of the General Assembly since lawmakers recessed at the end of May without passing next year's budget.

They never passed one for the fiscal year that's ending, either.

The political stalemate has had negative effects on Illinois' business climate, forced cash-starved social service agencies to shut down, left Illinois with a lower credit rating, and chased away university students and professors, and lately, Rauner has been warning of potential prison shutdowns and halted road construction.