News Local/State

Senate To Take Up ‘Lifeline’ Budget Bill — Just Don’t Call It That

Senate President John Cullerton.

Senate President John Cullerton. Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he and his colleagues will take up a partial government spending bill passed by the House earlier this month.

The legislation would release more than 800 million dollars piling up in special state accounts for social service contractors and state universities.

Republicans call it another “stopgap” budget. House Democrats called it a “lifeline.” But Cullerton says neither term is accurate.

"Really it’s important for you to know that I don’t view those as stopgaps or lifelines," Cullerton said Tuesday. "Those monies are trapped in those funds, and cannot be spent by the governor or anybody else unless we authorize them to spend it."

Republicans have criticized the plan, saying it would take pressure off legislators to make a comprehensive deal. (Illinois hasn’t had a full budget in nearly two years.)

But Cullerton says the state’s pile of unpaid bills — approaching $13 billion dollars — means there’s still plenty of pressure.