SPRINGFIELD, IL (KPLR) – With time running out, Illinois state legislators appear to have reached a budget compromise.
The new budget year begins Friday, July 1. It had appeared the state would enter its second year in a row without an approved state budget. Social service agencies that provide assistance to Illinois residents under state contracts were beginning to cancel those contracts and in some cases even close their facilities.
Legislators are expected to debate the proposals on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, newspapers across the state placed editorials on their front pages calling for an end to the budget stalemate.
Lawmakers said the compromise will provide a 12 month budget for elementary and secondary schools. But other state services will only receive a six month stop gap budget.
IL State Rep. Jay Hoffman. A Democrat from Belleville, said "I don’t believe this is one person giving and another person taking, I think this working in a bi-partisan fashion, Republicans and Democrats , governor and legislature reaching a solution albeit a short term solution."
Bipartisan groups of lawmakers and members of the Governor's staff formed committees to look for consensus on specific budget issues during much of June. Hoffman said they will use the same technique to consider Gov. Bruce Rauner's turnaround agenda which includes changes in labor law and some state Government reform.
Rauner had been demanding legislative approval for portions of that agenda before he would agree to any tax hike associated with the budget. His apparent willingness to delay these non-budget changes was one factor in the compromise. Sources said the other was the realization by Democratic leaders including House Speaker Michael Madigan that they did not have enough support to force the state to pick up the Chicago teachers pension shortfalls. The education measure will include an increase in statewide funding for poverty grants administered through the state Department of Education. Chicago schools serving low income students will benefit from that, but so too will schools in other parts of the state.
The Chicago teacher pension plan is separate from pensions for other public-school teachers across the state. Criticism of how the Chicago pension has been managed fueled the opposition among non--Chicago lawmakers who wanted the city to solve its own pension problems.
Illinois faces more than 100 billion dollars in back pension payments for state workers. That money problem was not addressed in the budget compromise.
It is expected lawmakers will give Chicago the right to hold a vote on whether to raise property taxes within the Chicago school district to fix the teacher pension problem.