As Illinois Lawmakers Return To Springfield, Still No Budget Compromise | WBEZ
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As Illinois Lawmakers Return To Springfield, Still No Budget Compromise

Illinois lawmakers are returning to Springfield Wednesday as the end of the state’s fiscal year approaches, with still no deal on how to fund state government operations like road construction projects, universities, lottery winners, social services - or even schools. That means not only has there been no comprehensive state budget for the past 12 months, but there’s no agreement for the next 12 months.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said she and her fellow Democratic state senators have a budget plan that would temporarily fund state government. 

“This is a created crisis. It’s time to end it. Let’s open our schools, let’s fund our roads, and let’s move Illinois forward,” Bush said.

The proposal several Democratic senators are advocating for also calls for increasing the amount the state would spend toward school districts, particularly with students in areas of the state with low property values, by more than $700 million. 

That includes additional money for Chicago Public Schools, which has been a significant point of contention between Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic legislative leaders.

“This whole bill is about bringing fairness to our education system throughout the state of Illinois and it’s not just a bailout, as some like to characterize it, for the City of Chicago,” Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said Tuesday.

Rauner has spent recent weeks arguing through the media with Emanuel over how much money is appropriate for the state to send to Chicago Public Schools. 

“We must not bail out a broken system that refuses to change the way it does business,” Rauner said in a statement. “Forcing Illinois to raise its income tax to bail out CPS is fundamentally unfair to our school children, parents, homeowners, and small business owners across the state.”

Republican legislative leaders, meanwhile, introduced their own budget plan that stands in contrast to the Senate Democrats’ budget. That measure also increases education spending from last year by $240 million. 

Also, Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, on Tuesday morning defended a budget measure that passed the House of Representatives last month, but failed in the Senate, saying that would have allowed schools to open on time in the fall. 

That plan was ridiculed by Rauner for being about $7 billion out of balance. Madigan also said he plans to call a spending plan to fund road construction projects. 

The Rauner administration has said without state funding by Friday, current road construction projects would come to a halt.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.

WBEZ has been collecting stories about the people Caught in the Middle of the impasse. Listen here. 

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