ILLINOIS (KFVS) - With only 30 days left for the Illinois legislative session, budget talks are a top priority for lawmakers.
Heartland mayors are joining forces with a message to the Illinois lawmakers in unison -- don't balance the budget on the backs of cities.
Local governments get a small percentage of money reimbursed back to the municipalities from the state's income tax to pay for things like the police and garbage collection. This is the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF). However, in the last few years, local governments have experienced cuts.
Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens along with many other Illinois Mayors are paying close attention to lawmakers and their decision whether to cut the LGDF.
"I don't want to to act like I'm for [the cut], I certainly oppose any cut to the distributive fund because it would hurt Murphysboro…hurt any town that would get that cut," Stephens said.
"We will watch the process unfold …and once it comes to conclusion, we will do the best we can to manage it."
According to Stephens, Governor Bruce Rauner alluded to a potential reduction of the LGDF in his 2018 Budget Address.
"The fact of the matter is the state's not in good shape and it has been in quite some time….so the legislator and governor are trying to find ways to patch budgetary holes…and if this happens…I hope it doesn't, but if it does, we will get together with our financial officer and our budget people and we'll figure out how to make it work," Stephens said.
Last year, the city of Carbondale had to do just that -- figure out how to make it work. More than a half million was cut from their local distributive fund.
Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said, "We put off initiatives …we left some positions vacant that needed to be filled in city hall.. we didn't have as many police officers on staff as we wanted to have…as we budgeted for…so it affects the community to a great deal."
Former Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole is now the current Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League, which serves many of the local governments in Illinois.He says, "IML's top priority for the rest of session is to ensure that LGDF is protected in order to fund critical local services."
Mayor Henry agreed. He said, "Just for the good of the state, they really need to start working on getting their fiscal house in order."
State Representative Dave Severin says last week House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced that he filed House Joint Resolution 124. According to the IML website, the resolution sets estimated amounts of general funds to be available during State Fiscal Year 2019 to assist in budget negotiations.
Lawmakers have one month, until May 31st to pass the Illinois state budget.