Rauner Signs Off On Plan To Fix Budget Hole

Bruce Rauner signs budget approced by the Illinois Senate

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signs a budget fix approved by the Illinois Senate, filling a $1.6 billion budget gap.

(Photo: Illinois Governor’s Office)

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday signed a budget fix approved earlier in the day by the Illinois Senate, filling a $1.6 billion budget gap.

The deficit was the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) says this will fill that gap.

"We clearly had a significant budget challenge we needed to get through for this fiscal year," she said.  "We knew it was an incomplete budget. This takes care of that, without adding any debt and without any new tax revenues."

Rather, the plan calls for sweeping money from special funds meant for other purposes. It also relies on near across-the-board cuts to state spending.

Mental health, pension payments and a couple of other areas are spared; schools are not. But there's money set aside for the governor to draw on should a district find itself hurting, and in need of more cash.

The deal saves a state-subsidized daycare program for low-income families that was out of cash, and ensures there'll be money to pay prison guards and court reporters.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno called it a "small but significant step" in moving Illinois forward.

"We will take a vote on this bill knowing full well it's going to cause some hardships, but it also does some good things in terms of preserving the childcare program, avoiding layoffs at corrections and other things that will allow state government to continue to function," she said.

While it passed with bipartisan votes, only a dozen of the Senate's 39 Democrats went along with it. And in the House, support from Democrats in suburban swing districts was noticeably missing.  The minority party was all in though; every Republican legislator voted "yes."

Rauner took to the Senate floor Thursday to shake hands after the plan passed by a 32-26 vote with all 20 Republicans voting for it. The House earlier approved the measure with full Republican support.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio