News Local/State

UPDATE: Stopgap Budget Deal Passes General Assembly, Sent To Governor

An empty Illinois state capitol building in Springfield.

Interior of the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield. Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons

Illinois lawmakers averted a shutdown of schools and avoided further uncertainty in government operations with a partial budget deal that funds education for a year and other areas for six months.  

The Illinois Legislature passed a package of bills Thursday to complete an agreement by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers after days of negotiations. But the deal means the state will still enter a second fiscal year Friday without a full budget and will likely extend the partisan fighting over a comprehensive spending plan past the November elections.  

The plan will send money to social service organizations that have waited since last July for payment. It'll also get money to universities, allow road work to continue, and ensure schools can able to open on time this fall.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says it is the result of good faith efforts. "This measure is a compromise," he said. "Republicans did not get everything that they wanted. Democrats did not get everything that they wanted. But this is a compromise effort that also makes important progress toward fulfilling our obligations to Illinois' middle class, the elderly, children."

Still, Madigan says lawmakers' work isn't done. 

House Majority leader Barbara Flynn Currie says this is just to keep the lights on.

"Personally, I'd like to be a complete budget, a full budget, a full year budget, all of fiscal '17," she said. "But that is not the option before us today."

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner scheduled a media briefing shortly after the vote in the state senate. He thanked Republican lawmakers for doing what he called an "outstanding" job standing up for taxpayers. Despite the compromise short-term budget, the governor called this a low point in the evolution of Illinois. 

"Let's be clear," he said. "This is a small step in the right direction. This is not a budget. This is not a balanced budget. This is not a solution to our long-term challenges. This is a bipartisan bridge to reform."

Schools got a full year’s worth of funding, but the package would only keep the rest of government operating through January; meaning lawmakers will need to pass a new budget then.

Madigan says this package succeeded because Republican Governor Bruce Rauner didn't tie it to his "personal" agenda.

But Rauner advocates say they aren't giving up on the governor's controversial plans.

The proposals got widespread support from central Illinois lawmakers. State Rep. Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Urbana, supported the bills but said that many needs were not included in the stop-gap budget. She said legislators will be back to work on that.