After months of bipartisan negotiations, Illinois lawmakers approved a compromise stop-gap budget June 30 that will fund K-12 schools, road projects and federal programs for the next year and keep essential state services running until January, according to Senator Tim Bivins.
“We have been warning for years of an impending fiscal crisis, and now we are face-to-face with the stark reality of a tax-and-spend government free-for-all,” Senator Bivins said. “This is not the budget we had hoped to pass, but it is the budget that will break this impasse and keep us moving. It’s time to turn things around, and this is the first step.”
The $50.6 billion stop-gap budget makes a historic investment in K-12 education, provides money for early childhood education, funds MAP grants, ensures critical government services are funded, and provides for no bailout of the Chicago Public Schools system. Senate Bill 2047 will provide a full year of funding for elementary and secondary education, road construction projects and federal programs, and six months of funding for critical operations for higher education, state-operated facilities (such as prisons and veterans’ homes), public safety, health and welfare.
The budget will fully fund the current state-aid formula for schools for the first time in seven years, with a “hold harmless” provision that guarantees no schools will receive less money than they did in the previous year. In addition, a new $250 million equity grant will help the poorest schools in the state, and early childhood education (pre-K) will receive a boost of $75 million.
Higher education will receive an additional $1 billion, in addition to the $600 million that had already been appropriated earlier this year. The funding includes $151 million for MAP grants for low-income students and $114 million for community colleges.
The plan also includes more than $13 billion for new and ongoing transportation infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects, which will keep an estimated 25,000 workers employed.
More than $700 million will go to human services programs that help many of the state’s most vulnerable residents. Other programs, including prisons, mental health facilities, veterans’ homes, and state parks, will receive funding to keep them open and operating until January.
The 45th District Senator said it is important for lawmakers to build on the momentum of this bipartisan legislation so progress continues on essential government and business reforms.
“I am a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility. In the Senate, I have consistently been under my district office budget since 2008 – by as much as 34% one year. What we do not spend, we return to the state’s General Revenue Fund,” Senator Bivins said. “This money is provided by hard-working taxpayers, and we have a responsibility to manage it prudently.”
Fiscal Year 2017 begins July 1, 2016.