Springfield Update: Rauner Wants Temporary Budget Fix Amid Stalemate

Springfield Update: Rauner Wants Temporary Budget Fix Amid Stalemate

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On the final official day of the spring legislative session, WBEZ’s Tony Arnold joins us for an update on the state budget standoff.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a short-term budget fix on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to give the state some temporary stability during a nearly yearlong spat between the Republican and Democratic lawmakers over a spending plan.

But after meeting with Rauner, Democratic leaders who control the Legislature said they’ll consider the idea but that they won’t have enough time to vote on it before they conclude this year’s session Tuesday night. Instead, they’ll proceed with an out-of-balance full-year budget plan Rauner has said he’ll veto.

Rauner’s proposal would fund public schools through next year and provide support for financially-strapped social service providers and higher-education institutions.

Last week, Rauner’s administration opposed a temporary fix when Democrats first raised the idea but relented because lawmakers are hours away from finishing the session.

“It has become abundantly clear that the legislative majority will not compromise and pass a balanced budget with reforms,” Rauner’s budget director, Tim Nuding, said in a memo addressed to lawmakers Monday night.

After the meeting with the governor, Republican House Leader Jim Durkin called it “laughable” to believe there isn’t enough time to pass a temporary fix and said Democrats have “been able to move mountains in matters of minutes” when they want to approve something.

Democrats remain deadlocked with Rauner and his fellow Republicans on how to pass a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Rauner wants business-friendly legislation that he says will spur economic growth in exchange for signing off on a tax increase to address a $5 billion deficit. Democrats say Rauner’s ideas hurt the middle class.

The Senate is expected to consider a $40 billion budget on Tuesday that the House already passed — but Rauner said he’ll veto it because it’s $7 billion out of balance.

Senate Democratic President John Cullerton first floated the idea of a short-term budget last week. Asked what he thought of Nuding’s suggestion, Cullerton said, “It makes my comments prescient,” and then proceeded to spell out the word. “P-R-E-S-C-I-E-N-T.”

Rauner’s temporary budget proposal suggests funding public schools so they can open in the fall, though the memo did not provide a funding figure for schools. Colleges and universities would also get $600 million from a special fund for higher education, and social service programs would get $458 million, also from a special fund.

“This proposal is not designed as a full-year budget,” Nuding said. “It is designed as a bridge plan that allows schools to open, keeps the lights on, protects public safety and prevents a government shutdown.”

Illinois lawmakers have one day left to end their 11-month budget stalemate before their spring session ends and it becomes more difficult. Lawmakers need a simple majority to pass a budget before they adjourn Tuesday night. After that they’ll need three-fifths support from each chamber.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said she was disappointed Democrats weren’t going to vote on a temporary budget that takes the state to January.

“If the Democrats leave here today without having done that, every single rank-and-file Democrat who sides with their leader against keeping the state operating wears the collar,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this coverage.