The final piece of the state budget puzzle has passed the Illinois General Assembly. The K-12 spending plan is $7 billion in state money and $3 billion in federal matching funds and boasts a $295 increase over the current fiscal year in per-pupil general state aid.
The governor has promised not to sign an unbalanced budget, and the House, in a procedural move, has blocked the bill from going to the governor, presumably while negotiations continue.
“If you have a spare $3-4 billion that magically appears, you can do some of the things that you talk about here. But you don’t. So you can’t,” said State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) during debate. “Before anyone listening back home in their school districts thinks they will get prorated 94 percent or 95 percent (compared to the current 89 percent of a state board’s recommendation), you’ve got to remember” – his voice lowering to a whisper – “it’s fairy dust! It’s magic!”
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The budget the governor announced in his Feb. 18 address to the General Assembly relied upon $2.2 billion in pension savings, an idea which evaporated with the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that the 2013 pension restructuring was unconstitutional. That would also make the governor’s proposal of three months ago unbalanced.
As negotiations between the governor’s office and labor unions representing state workers are reportedly contentious, the House passed a bill purporting to ban state worker strikes and lockouts.
“It doesn’t keep state government open,” said State Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein). “If we send this bill to the governor, he can wait 60 days, and it can be the end of July. The contract ends July 1. State workers can strike.” Sullivan said the real object of the bill is to cut management out of the picture by fast-forwarding to arbitration.