From the State Capitol: After lengthy talks between Gov Rauner and legislative leaders on Wednesday, a series of agreements were in the making that would extend funding for state operations beyond the November elections.
Funding for K-12 schools, would be for the full year.
One of the key hurdles in reaching a deal concerned the Democratic leaders desire to send millions in additional funds to Chicago Public Schools, which is in extreme financial distress.
In an effort to help districts across the state, the Leaders and Gov agreed to spend an additional $250 Million for schools, and according to several reports, CPS would get about $95 million of that.
As the discussion of sending CPS millions of dollars in state aid, many downstate lawmakers complained about sending CPS more money, and noted that property taxes in Chicago are often half of what is paid on similar priced properties in the collar counties.
To that end, as part of a budget deal, legislators will vote on a bill that will allow Chicago to raise property taxes that would go toward funding CPS pensions. The growth in pension payments is one of the key reasons that CPS is under such financial strain. Just this week, the district had to make a pension payment that topped $600 million.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the state would also begin covering about $200 million of the cost of CPS’ pensions. According to their report, THAT bill would not be sent to the legislature until after a new legislature is sworn-in in January, when the bill could pass by a simple majority. (Currently, because the legislature is now past it’s May 31 deadline for passing legislation, a 3/5ths vote is needed for passage.)
Beyond the state spending on these items, a number of disastrous problems will be avoid by passing a budget. Among these, the highway improvements, with hundreds of millions in Federal dollars available, projects which would have shut down on Friday — will now continue.
Other services that are funded with monies that are already available, but would have faced a shutdown, will now go on.
As Comptroller Leslie Munger recently noted in a press conference, her office could not pay Federal funds to agencies, without an approved budget.
That’s because, even though dollars are sitting in special accounts for such services as LIHEAP, the energy assistance program for the poor, the funds could not be touched, without the legal authority that is needed by an approved spending bill.
Votes to pass the agreed upon bills will be held in the legislature on Thursday, June 30 — one day before the new 2017 fiscal year begins on July first. The House comes into session at 9:00 am. The Senate at 10 am.