Waiting on Springfield to Make a Move

When it comes to Springfield, no news might just be good news.

A day of special session for the Illinois House and Senate ended with no significant action on a budget agreement. And there was silence from both Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders on what was going on behind closed doors.

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The state still has no working budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Lawmakers have one more day to craft one before the financial obligations of the new year begin to pile up.

But this silence may be a positive sign for passage of a budget that both the statehouse and the governor’s mansion can live with. And after hours of negotiations on Wednesday, it seems a deal is close, said Springfield correspondent Amanda Vinicky.

“This deal would provide for a stopgap budget. In general you would have government operations, social services, universities getting some of the money—in social services’ case pretty much all of it that they’ve been owed from the past year,” Vinicky said, adding the budget would also fund government operations through the end of the calendar year.

Education funding is the top priority for lawmakers and there's word that a deal is in the mix. 

“This is an education bill, unlike the rest of the partial stopgap budget … this would carry through for the full year, allow schools to open on time,” Vinicky said.

That bill would include a $200 million grant for high-poverty school districts, giving the Chicago Public Schools system a considerable share of the money. 

Additionally, it would give CPS the pension parity it’s been asking for starting next June with approximately $200 million each year. However, this is contingent on statewide pension reform. 

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool is faced with not only the coming year’s budget but a looming $669 million payment to the teachers’ pension fund by Thursday.

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