Rauner Introduces Stopgap Bills to Fund Schools, Social Services | NBC Chicago
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Rauner Introduces Stopgap Bills to Fund Schools, Social Services

The governor introduced two stopgap bills Tuesday dedicated to funding the state's K-12 education and other essential government services, like state colleges and universities and social services.

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    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a short-term budget fix on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to give the state some temporary stability during a nearly yearlong spat between the Republican and Democratic lawmakers over a spending plan. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016)

    With no confidence in a bipartisan budget solution, Gov. Bruce Rauner introduced two stopgap bills Tuesday dedicated to funding the state's K-12 education and other essential government services, like state colleges and social services.

    "We are calling on the General Assembly: don’t wait, don’t hold our schools hostage, don’t hold our government operations hostage, don’t hold the people of Illinois hostage," Rauner said during a capitol press conference. "These two bills now to bring stability to our state while we continue to negotiate in good faith on reforms through the working groups and we get through this crisis."

    Under Rauner's proposed K-12 funding plan, schools would be fully-funded with more money. Rauner said an additional $105 million would be allocated to give extra funding to school districts that get less under the state's funding formula. During his speech, Rauner noted the funding formula was put in place under Illinois Democrats in 2003.

    Rauner also discussed a seperate bill that looks to fund the state's essential government services, university system, healthcare system and corrections system through January. Rauner noted that Senate President John Cullerton had told him that Democrats were holding out on voting on reforms until after November's general election, so the bill would serve as a stop-gap until serious discussions resume.

    In response, Cullerton was encouraged by the governor's proposals, but said it was impossible to pass the measures by midnight.

    "We are hopeful this is a serious effort toward meaningful compromise and not just material for new conferences and political games," Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said in a statement. "It is constitutionally impossible for the General Assembly to pass today the proposals the Republicans first filed today."

    "We look forward to honest negotiations going forward," he added.

    Patterson also faulted Republicans for not considering stopgap measures when they were suggested by Cullerton last week.

    Nevertheless, Rauner had choice words for Democrats throughout his speech, calling their inability to pass a balanced budget a "stunning failure." Rauner also faulted Democrats for the state's failings.

    "Under the Democrats control, we have the highest deficits, the highest debt, the highest unfunded pensions of any state in America," Rauner said. "Under Speaker Madigans Democrats, we have the highest unemployment rate of any state in America. Under Speaker Madigan’s Democrats, we have the highest property taxes of any state in America. Under Democratic control, we lead the nation in people leaving the great state of Illinois."

    During his speech, the governor made a stark appeal for progress and reform.

    "We have to change direction," Rauner said. "We must fundamentally reform our government so it works for the people again and we have got to stop spending money that we don’t have."

    "We have got to stop the deficit spending, now," he said.

    The General Assembly would have to pass Rauner's bills before the midnight deadline that marks the end of the spring legislative session. After midnight, a supermajority will be needed to pass legislation. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno was confident lawmakers could meet the deadline to pass the bills.

    "Both of those bills can be passed tonight before midnight," Radogno said. "It is true we've introduced new bills, but there are vehicles in position in both chambers that can get the job done by midnight."

    "If the Democrats want to pass these things, rather than continue the brinksmanship, it is something that, in fact, can be done and needs to be done," she added.

    Illinois' budget impasse dates back to July of last year and has hinged on a battle between Rauner and Illinois Democrats over the governor's pro-business Turnaround Agenda. 

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