Legislative session ends in IL, state enters 3rd year with no budget

IL Lawmakers pass bill to save 911 system
Published: May. 30, 2017 at 7:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2017 at 11:32 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - The regular legislative session in Illinois has ended and lawmakers have still not agreed on a budget.

The state has been without an annual spending plan since Governor Bruce Rauner took office in 2015.

Lawmakers had to meet a 12:01 a.m. deadline on Thursday, June 1 and were unable to come to a compromise.

Rauner, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin held a press conference at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31. Rauner said that lawmaker's inability to create a budget plan that he would accept is a "dereliction of duty."

According to Representative Terri Bryant, a Republican from Murphysboro, rumblings of a budget proposal she's heard don't bode well for a grand bargain.

"At home, if I were balancing by checkbook, if I were paying my bills, I can look at my checkbook and go, 'Wow, I have a lot of money.' And that's what this bill looks like right now. So, unless the leadership on the Democrat side of the aisle goes back into negotiation at this point and amends the bill that we think they're gonna present to us today, at midnight tonight we'll still be without a budget," Bryant said.

Illinois Senator Paul Schimpf, a Republican from Waterloo, said he's just hoping they can get some sort of stop gap in place soon. He released this statement as the Senate began to adjourn the regular spring session:

"It is with profound disappointment that I classify this legislative session as an abject failure.  Months of negotiations have failed to produce meaningful reforms.  Even more troubling, session time has been squandered by both legislative bodies that could have been used to prepare for this contingency of negotiations failing.  The reality is that our universities, social service providers, and constituents who are counting on receiving payment for services rendered don't have another four weeks to wait--they needed their funding four months ago," said Schimpf. "It is past time to focus on how we can move what funding is currently available to those that are in desperate need."

The legislature will need a super majority to get a budget passed and then there's still no guarantee the governor will sign it.

School Funding

Illinois Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1 that would overhaul the state's public school funding formula. The new plan would direct more money to the neediest districts in an effort to help them implement practices that bolster student success. The amount of money would be based on student population needs and available local resources. Illinois currently has the nation's largest spending gap between poor and wealthy districts. SB1 is now on Governor Rauner's desk.

Funding 911 Centers

Around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, the Illinois Senate passed SB1839 which extends 911 funding to December 2020. It also increased the funding for 911 centers.

Democratic Representative Brandon Phelps championed the bill. He said it passed the Senate with a vote of 53-2. The House passed the bill late Wednesday afternoon.

Starting January 1, 2018, the surcharge on a landline or wireless device increases from the current .87 cents to $1.50. In the city of Chicago, the increase goes from $3.90 to $5.

The measure is now on Gov. Rauner's desk for approval.

Minimum Wage

The House and Senate both passed a plan to increase Illinois' minimum wage to $15 over five years. The current minimum wage is $8.25. Gov. Rauner hasn't said what he'll do.

Southern IL superintendents rally at Capitol

Schools in downstate Illinois have been chronically underfunded for years and superintendents from across the state rallied in Springfield on Wednesday, May 31.

The rally comes on the last day of the spring session of the Illinois General Assembly.

According to Superintendent Gary Kelly of Du Quoin, schools today are funded at the same level they were back in 2008 and 2009. That's because in the years that followed, the state underpaid schools by prorating the school funding formula anywhere from 8 to 11 percent per year.

Kelly said that hurt a lot of downstate schools specifically because we don't have the property tax base from which to pull funding like they have in the suburban counties near Chicago.

During those lean years, school districts were shortchanged millions of dollars and had to make a lot of cuts.

Last year around this time, Illinois lawmakers passed a stop-gap budget that funded K-12 education for the year. It allowed schools to open on time and districts to continue the business of educating students.

However, that's not the whole story, according to Superintendent Kelly. He said the state hasn't been making its categorical payments.

Kelly said so far this year, Du Quoin and every other school district in the state has only gotten one of four anticipated categorical payments. Those payments go to fund student bus service and special ed programs, both of which schools are required to provide, but aren't being paid to provide them.

That's put a lot of districts in a lurch.

Kelly said the state has shortchanged the Du Quoin School District alone about $600,000. That money has to come from somewhere and Kelly said some districts have had to make more cuts; more layoffs; and in downstate schools, where the fat was cut from the budget long ago, they're down to the bone.

Kelly said it's to the point now where it is definitely impacting kids.

That's why more than 100 superintendents from schools all over Illinois converged on Springfield to rally for a budget and for a revised school funding formula.

Governor Bruce Rauner has said he will not sign off on any budget agreement that increases taxes without real property tax relief.

Other Measures

The Illinois Senate has agreed with House changes to a measure that protects immigrants from indiscriminate federal attention.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton's "TRUST Act" now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner. It prevents federal authorities from stopping, questioning or detaining immigrants unless they have a valid federal warrant. It also would have prevented local police from cooperating with federal agents unless a federal criminal warrant was presented and barred federal authorities from entering "safe zones" such as schools or publicly funded clinics.

But the House altered the measure to allow local police to converse with federal agents. And it removed a deadline for local police to compile paperwork validating that an immigrant helped with a criminal investigation. Cullerton put that in a separate bill approved Tuesday.

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Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.