CHICAGO, April 6 The Illinois House passed $817
million in spending on Thursday to provide "life-line" funding
to higher education and social service and health programs that
have been starved for cash due to the state's budget impasse.
The measure passed in a 64-45 vote over Republican Governor
Bruce Rauner's opposition to another stopgap spending measure. A
six-month temporary budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30
expired on Dec. 31.
Illinois is limping towards the end of a second-straight
fiscal year without a complete budget due to a stalemate between
Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature. The country's
fifth-largest state has been operating on continuing
appropriations and court-ordered spending, while its pile of
unpaid bills reached nearly $13 billion on Wednesday.
The bill would tap money from the state's commitment to
human services and education assistance funds to direct $258
million to pay for dozens of programs, including senior meals
and crime prevention, and indigent burials. Another $559 million
would go to state universities, community colleges, and
educational grants for low-income students.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic State Representative Greg
Harris, said the so-called life-line measure would allow social
service organizations and state universities "to continue to
He cited a United Way survey released on Wednesday that
showed 69 percent of social service agencies had received no
payments or partial payments from the state so far in fiscal
2017, forcing 49 percent of the agencies to reduce services.
He said universities had resorted to program cuts and
Republican lawmakers contended that passage of a stopgap
measure would take the pressure off the legislature to finally
pass a full budget.
"The reality is we don't do things around here without
pressure," said Republican State Representative Steven
The measure will now head to the Senate, which is on break
until April 25. A spokesman for Democratic Senate President John
Cullerton said the bill would be reviewed.
Earlier on Thursday, Rauner voiced opposition to another
“We’ve been doing that for decades, and it’s created the
crisis and mess we’re in," he told reporters in Decatur. "That’s
a failure to do stopgaps. Let’s do a balanced budget so the
problem is fixed."
After a bipartisan bill package aimed at ending the impasse
stalled in the Senate last month, credit rating agencies warned
that Illinois' credit ratings, the lowest among the 50 states,
could sink even lower.
(Reporting By Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney)