Illinois state lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal late last night. It was the last day of their scheduled session, so now the focus turns to negotiating a temporary spending plan. Their failure means funding is in question for schools, universities, social services and even food for prison inmates.
The negotiating went late into the night Tuesday, as Senate and House Democrats differed on different unbalanced budget plans - one for the full state government and the other solely for education.
There’s always this big flurry of action on every May 31 at the statehouse because every year that’s the deadline to get things done for the Spring session. Senators late last night rejected a budget proposal that spent $7 billion dollars more than the state would bring in. That was really the closest thing to a full state budget that lawmakers seriously addressed.
“Today we end the Spring session in the General Assembly in stunning failure, stunning failure by the supermajority Democrats who control our legislature,” Rauner told reporters a few hours before lawmakers took their final votes of the day.
Meantime, a separate proposal to fund only schools around the state also failed. That plan called for increasing spending by $900 million dollars, which Republicans and a few House Democrats said the state did not have. They also said it also would have helped Chicago teachers’ underfunded pensions at the expense of suburban and downstate residents who don’t send their kids to Chicago Public Schools. Just 24 state representatives voted in favor of the school funding bill compared to 92 who voted against it.
“This is nothing more than political nonsense designed to bring us to the midnight hour to pretend we’re actually working to the benefit of the citizens when in reality we’re only doing it for the benefit of our own political gain,” Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) said.
Despite those two measures’ failures, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) expressed optimism of finding a compromise on a temporary budget plan that would last about six months. Earlier in the day, Rauner said he would drop items from his Turnaround Agenda, like limiting collective bargaining which Democrats have opposed, in favor of a temporary budget that would last through the November campaign, and would allow schools to receive state money in the Fall.
“Once it’s after the election, maybe that’ll be another point where people will see how the election turned out that might change some people’s minds and then we’ll reach an agreement,” Cullerton told reporters at a late-night news conference with reporters in his office.
Cullerton said if there continues to be no deal, then Republicans and Democrats both will look bad in the eyes of voters. But Republicans spent a lot of the day Tuesday saying Democrats were motivated purely by the election, and not on reaching a deal.
“I would like for them to disprove me,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin at the end of the day, referring to a six-month budget deal. “This is an opportunity to do that.”