SPRINGFIELD — The state Senate dealt blows to Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan on Tuesday, rejecting the governor’s plea to pass a stopgap budget and voting down a competing spending blueprint penned by Democratic leaders.
On a day Rauner called the spring session a “stunning failure,” in the end, there wasn’t even a resolution to fund K-12 education despite last-minute attempts by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to pass legislation.
That plan would have increased elementary and secondary education statewide by $900 million, with $475 million more going to Chicago Public Schools.
During the bill’s debate, Illinois House State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, cited the gravity of not passing a budget: “Real people are going to suffer. Real people are going to die. This is a matter of life and death.”
Meanwhile, Republicans continued to call the education bill a Chicago bailout.
The dramatic last day of session set the scene for what appears to be a continuation of the state’s financial meltdown, as universities and social services struggle to keep their doors open.
Although an education spending plan passed the Senate 37-19, it couldn’t garner enough votes in the House, where it failed massively with just 24 legislators voting yes, 92 voting no.
Earlier, Senate Democrats — many frustrated with Madigan for not including them in the appropriations bill process — voted against the Democratic leaders’ budget plan 17-31 with 10 voting present. The spending plan would have provided funding to schools and social services, but included a $7 billion deficit.
Even if the budget bill had passed, it had no revenue attached to it, leaving social service agencies even more concerned. No budget means an ongoing destruction of the social service system, according to social service advocates.
On the Senate floor, Cullerton said working groups would be finding a way to fund education.
Despite the lack of action on budget deadline day, late Tuesday Cullerton told reporters he’s confident he can get a temporary budget — one that could fund the state until January — in a week. He said he was “optimistic” he could work with Rauner and the leaders on passing a temporary budget that will help the state move forward.
“I hope to have a budget. Think about this. A real budget, signed by the governor — an agreement — within a week. That’s more positive than we’ve been up until now,” Cullerton said.
Cullerton said he reached an agreement with Rauner during a Tuesday leaders meeting to pass a budget “that’s not going to be encumbered by things that have kept us from passing a budget until now.”
Rauner has for months sought to make changes in collective bargaining, prevailing wage and in workers’ compensation. Those reforms have been consistently fought off by Democrats, who have accused Rauner of trying weaken the state’s unions. And Rauner has said he won’t agree to a tax hike without “pro-growth” and “pro-investment reforms.”
Earlier Tuesday, Rauner discussed a stopgap measure to fund the state through the end of the year — and challenged Democrats to immediately pass it.
“Don’t wait, don’t hold our schools hostage,” the governor said. “Don’t hold our government operations hostage. Don’t hold the people of Illinois hostage.”
Last week, the governor urged legislators not to do “Band-Aids” and urged the passage of a balanced budget with reforms. But Rauner’s budget director Tim Nuding on Monday wrote a memo in support of a fully funded short-term “bridge plan.”
And while the governor and Republican leaders pushed for that measure to be approved by Tuesday night, Democratic leaders said that wouldn’t happen. And they were right.
In their effort to pass the education bill, Democrats used Rauner’s own words in their debate, saying they had sent the governor a “clean education budget,” which he had requested. The Senate began debate on the bill about 9:10 p.m., less than three hours from the budget deadline. And it passed it about 30 minutes later, on a vote of 37-19.
Under Cullerton’s education funding plan, Chicago would have received $205 million for 2017 to pay for the normal cost of pensions, while the city would also have received an additional $270 million in an equity grant — part of $700 million that would be distributed throughout the state.
That was enough for State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, to call Chicago the “big winner.”
“CPS, here’s your bailout,” Barickman said.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who has been advocating for his own Senate bill to reform the education funding formula, called the bill a “clean bill,” which Rauner had requested.
Speaking at the Capitol just hours before the budget deadline, and surrounded by Republican leaders and legislators, Rauner called the end of the spring session a “stunning failure,” while urging the passage of a “clean” education funding bill to ensure schools open on time, and a stopgap measure to fund universities, the state’s health care system, corrections system and government operations through January.
“They cannot be held hostage for this unbalanced budget that will force a massive tax hike on the people of Illinois next winter,” Rauner said.
Rauner said Cullerton indicated he would be willing to negotiate on a balanced budget come January, after the election. But Rauner called on legislators to instead pass the stopgap measure by Tuesday night, while continuing negotiations on his preferred reforms with the working groups.
The governor also laid heavy blame on Madigan for the state’s deficit, its unfunded pensions, unemployment rate and property taxes and said the state must change direction.
When Rauner was asked about whether he takes any responsibility for the lack of a budget, he said “absolutely,” then spoke out against unbalanced budgets that have been proposed by Democrats.
“I will always veto dramatically out of balance budgets. We have to stop doing this. The Democrats have spent our state into the toilet for 30 years. We are like a banana republic. We can’t manage our money and employers don’t have any confidence in us,” Rauner said.
Earlier Tuesday, both Madigan and Cullerton said they want Rauner’s stopgap measure to be further negotiated with the working groups tasked with ironing out issues on the budget and reforms.
“They would get to work today and they’ll work very assiduously until we get to a resolution,” Madigan said after a Tuesday morning leaders meeting with Rauner.
On Wednesday, Rauner will begin a two-day tour of the state, in his push for a stopgap budget and a “clean” education bill.