Senators in Springfield are looking to pile another $4 billion in spending onto the nearly $7.5 billion in backlogged bills. The bill is similar to legislation passed by the House last month, but the Senate version also authorizes grants for Amtrak and libraries run by Secretary of State Jesse White. One major difference between the two similar appropriations bills is that Senate Bill 2059 is not connected to any funding source — something the House bill had, but for only a fraction of the total appropriation. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, says it at least gives the comptroller the authority to spend. In a letter to legislators, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget director, Tim Nuding, calls the spending bill “a cruel hoax on those it is purportedly designed to help.”
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Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, says this bill is about pandering to constituents. “What this bill is really about,” Murphy told the floor, “is about being able to go home and tell people, “Hey, I voted to give you money.” Senate Republican Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, says the bill “tells people you’re going to go to the back of the line after the bank run has already shut the doors.” Having passed with 39 votes, the bill now heads to the House.