Legislators Approve Stopgap Budget

For the first time in a year, there is a state budget, albeit a temporary one. There is also relief for Chicago Public Schools, but with some caveats.

The plan sailed through both the House and Senate on Thursday, but not before some heated debate.

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“We’ve accomplished this with the spirit of compromise, of negotiation. That’s what adults do,” State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said.

Comments by State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) included a warning.

“This isn’t a solution, ladies and gentlemen. This is just a way to delay the day of reckoning,” said Franks. “Our debt will continue to grow, our unpaid bills will continue to grow, our pension obligations will continue to grow, and our state will fall farther and farther behind in paying their bills, and our credit rating probably will be downgraded again.”

Here is the breakdown of the stopgap budget:

“This is not a budget,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “This is not a balanced budget. This is not a solution to our long-term challenges. This is a bridge to reform. That’s what this is.”

In some cases, the budget will allow social service agencies that have closed to reopen and start providing services again, “Chicago Tonight” Springfield reporter Amanda Vinicky explained.

But it won’t help all of them.

“For some of these social service agencies, it’s frankly too late,” she said. “It’s going to cost additional dollars to rehire people who have already been laid off. It’s really going to be on an individual organization basis.”

Vinicky said that according to information provided by Rauner’s office, the stopgap plan is “affordable and does not raise taxes. Funding is available under current law for all components.”

In other words, Vinicky said, the state won’t pay itself back and will dip into various funds.

“This does nothing to address Illinois’ monster bill backlog that is somewhere around $8 billion as you and I speak,” Vinicky said. Spending money with a debt load like the one the state has is sort of like using a state credit card, she added.

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