The stopgap plan to drag Illinois across the finish line of the current fiscal year quickly passed the House. Negotiations on the bill wrapped up in time for it to be filed Monday night and for a committee hearing to be scheduled this (Tuesday) morning. Final House passage came during the noon hour, and the two-bill package could get a vote in the Senate later this week. Lawmakers are not in session between this week and the week of April 12.
The current year's budget, which runs through June 30, is $1.6 billion out of balance, threatening state-subsidized child care, court reporters, and prison employees.
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State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) told lawmakers in committee more than 80 percent of the problem would be solved by taking monies from funds that are not otherwise unencumbered and taking the rest of the money that we need from an across-the-board 2.25 percent cut in most state programs.
Currie adds the bill gives Gov. Bruce Rauner $97 million to distribute to local school districts in danger of closing from the 2 percent cut.
The Transportation for Illinois Coalition, a business / labor interest group, wasted no time in weighing in via e-mail:
"As lawmakers consider transferring money out of the Road Fund to cover other shortfalls in the current FY 15 budget, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition makes clear its opposition to a Road Fund sweep. Every dollar in the Road Fund is needed for maintenance and repair of our existing highway, road and bridge system. Any transfer to other spending purposes highlights one of the reasons we have significant infrastructure needs and exacerbates an already bleak future for Illinois' transportation system.
Previous sweeps and diversions have contributed to the decline in the condition of our transportation network. If the proposed sweep is enacted, it will only add pressure on policymakers to approve a comprehensive and sustainable funding solution for transportation to prevent nearly 5 in 10 road miles in Illinois from being in unacceptable condition by 2020."
One bill sweeps $1.3 billion in dedicated funds and makes the budget cuts. The second bill actually spends the money. Three members State Reps. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago), La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), and Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) voted to spend the money but not to make the sweeps and cuts.