News Local/State

Madigan: No Reason To Hold Up Social Services Funding


There's no reason for the governor to further hold up partial funding for social services. That's the message from the Speaker of the Illinois House.

Legislation passed earlier this month with bipartisan votes to get homeless, autism and elderly support organizations about half their usual state financing, meaning social services whose funding has been caught in the nearly 11 month political impasse may be on the way to getting some money.

Except, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office continues to say the bill (SB2083) is rife with technical issues that his budget manager says will prevent money from flowing to some of the very agencies the measure is intended to help. The administration has indicated that will keep the governor from signing it into law.

"The claim that there's drafting problems with the bill is pure nonsense from the governor's communications team," House Speaker Michael Madigan in an interview with NPR Illinois last week. "Why does he continue to insist that these agencies that provide for the vulnerable in our society and haven't been or the services that they provide for the state. Why doesn't he deal with that?"

Madigan also said of the $700 million funding bill: "There's a bill on the governor's desk where his communications department complains about drafting errors which are non-existent. The governor ought to focus on that bill because that would provide some money for social service agencies all over Illinois who have provided services on the promise from the Rauner administration that they'd get some money. And they haven't gotten any money. And it's been 11 months. That's what the governor ought to be focused on."

The "Pay Now Illinois" coalition of social service organizations with state contracts that have not been upheld during the impasse is suing the state to get its collective $100 million.  

The governor's office had wanted Madigan to also agree to pay state prison contractors and utility bills. Madigan says if the governor submits such a request he'd entertain it.

Democrats in the General Assembly also just sent Rauner legislation  (HB4167) that would send universities money many schools have fronted for the Monetary Award Program -- tuition grants for low-income students.

Rauner does not appear inclined to sign that into law, either.

Republican legislators opposed that plan. Whereas the social services stopgap is paid for out of a specific funding source, the GOP lawmakers say this the MAP grant legislation is a "false promise" with no money to back it up.

Rauner's office continues to say he's focused on a long-term compromise.

The legislative session is supposed to adjourn May 31.