There’s a new plan to appropriate more than $3.5 billion for higher education, tuition assistance grants and some social services headed to the state Senate, a plan Republicans say is grossly out of balance.
Late Wednesday evening Speaker Michael Madigan’s office announced a new plan to amend several House bills that “contains an agreed funding source and appropriations for higher education, MAP and a number of human service programs at the same level as was approved by the legislature in May 2015.”
During debate Thursday Republicans said the measures are out of balance.
Democrats said the state comptroller can prioritize payments.
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Republican state Rep. Steven Anderson said why not just make numbers up, because the state’s already late on billions of dollars in backlogged bills.
“The federal budget is $3.9 trillion. Let’s top them,” Anderson said. “Let’s have a bigger budget than that since obviously it has nothing to do with money. We’re just authorizing the governor to figure out our budget crisis.”
Democratic leadership said one proposal would forgive nearly half a billion dollars in fund sweeps as a way to pay for the appropriations.
Republican state Rep. Chad Hays said he just called his credit card company to see if his family’s Christmas debt could be forgiven “because I’ve got some stuff I want to buy tomorrow.”
“Let’s just call it even,” Hays said. “And they laughed. I found it shocking … Couldn’t believe they wouldn't go for that deal.”
Republicans also said even with the fund sweep forgiveness, the measures are still out of balance by more than $2 billion.
A memo from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget says the proposals are “the latest in a long line of unbalanced budget proposals.”
Democratic leader Barbara Flynn Currie acknowledged the revenues aren’t available to fund the proposals.
After passing the measure along party lines Thursday the House adjourned and isn’t scheduled back in Springfield until next month despite requests from Republicans to stick around to figure out a resolution to the more than eight month budget impasse.