Despite tentative optimism heading into the weekend before the scheduled May 31 legislative adjournment that a compromise could be reached on a balanced state budget and economy-boosting, job-creating structural reforms, Democrat leaders continued to slow-walk the process, stymying progress and leading the General Assembly to once again leave Springfield in May without an agreement.
In response, Senate Republicans introduced a six month, fully funded bridge budget, Senate Bill 3435, that would give the Legislature and the Governor time to work on a long-term plan to put Illinois back on the road to financial recovery. Despite previously suggesting a stop-gap budget just days before the end of the scheduled session, Senate President John Cullerton refused to allow the measure to be called for a vote in the Senate.
The measure would address immediate priorities and keep basic government services operational. Key components include: ensuring federal funds coming to Illinois for social service providers continue without interruption, $600 million for higher education, $180 million for human service providers not covered by court-ordered state payments, $450 million for food service, utilities and medical services at state prisons and mental health facilities, and to pay for essential services at state-run institutions. The measure would also provide funding for public construction projects, such as roads, bridges and emergency repairs at state facilities.
The stop-gap plan also includes funding to take care of the programs, services and old bills left unfunded and unpaid by the lack of a Fiscal Year 2016 budget, and not covered by court orders, consent decrees and the parts of government that receive automatic annual funding.