Dems, Rauner spar over deficit solution; Senate Democrats poised to pass own version

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — State Senate Democrats on Tuesday proposed freeing nearly $600 million to help patch a hole in the current budget, but it’s not the solution Gov. Bruce Rauner has been seeking.

Illinois_News_Network_logoFor about a month, the Republican governor has been negotiating with legislative leaders for the power to move around as much as $1.6 billion in state funds to cover a current shortfall.

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, on Tuesday introduced a measure to move up $580 million into the general fund.

The money comes from so-called state special funds, which are supported by fees. It would be transferred with legislative approval as needed and not by the governor.

Kotowski’s proposal was approved by a Senate appropriations committee on partisan roll call Tuesday. Democrats voted in favor and Republicans voted present.

“This is the exact type of short-term thinking that created this mess and it does not even solve the major crises that will occur at the end of this month,” said administration spokesman Mike Schrimpf.

“After weeks of detailed negotiations, including three hours yesterday morning, it is clear that Senate Democrats are more interested in playing politics than solving this problem,” he added.

Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, who serves on the committee, said, “This fails to confront and fix the problem created by the Democrats in their own budget, which Gov. Rauner has inherited.”

The Senate could vote on the measure as early as Thursday, although further negotiations are possible.

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