On June 30 the General Assembly passed a stopgap funding plan that will serve as a bridge to a comprehensive budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The legislation would provide a full year of funding for K-12 schools and road construction projects. The package also includes six months of funding for higher education and state-operated facilities, such as prisons and veterans’ homes.
“Although a short-term deal isn’t ideal, it was necessary to ensure our schools open in the fall and critical projects and services remain operating,” said State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville). “This legislation is both responsible and affordable and moves us in the right direction until a more comprehensive budget is reached.”
Under the legislation, school districts will be funded at 100% foundational level for the first time in seven years. All districts will be held harmless and a vast majority of them will receive more money than they did last year.
“This is a record high level of funding for elementary and secondary education,” said Connelly. “For the first time in years, students will no longer be victims of the proration advanced under Democrats.”
In the spirit of compromise, the package also includes a new statewide $250 million equity grant for the poorest schools in the state. Senator Connelly noted the budget package did not contain a Chicago bailout.
“Chicago will have to fix their short-term problems on their own and will not be treated any differently than any other district,” said Sen. Connelly.
The funding package also includes $1 billion for higher education on top of the $600 million already approved in Fiscal Year 201. This measure ensures that universities are able to open on time and complete a full fall semester. It also allocates $151 million in funding for MAP grants for the spring semester of 2016 and provides community colleges with $114 million.
Additionally, transportation, human services and other critical government services will also receive funding to keep projects and services running.
“In the past couple days Republicans and Democrats have come together and negotiated in good faith,” said Connelly. “I hope our bi-partisan efforts continue as we work to create a fully balanced budget with much needed reforms.”