State: House passes measure to release funds

A measure to provide money to local governments, winners of the Illinois Lottery and funds for veterans homes across the state is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough in solving the budget crisis according to some supporters.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie filed an amendment to Senate Bill 2039 that would appropriate money to counties and municipalities from the road fund, money from video gaming, money for veterans homes across the state, energy assistance grants, and $1 billion for winners of the Illinois Lottery. Though he supported the measure, Mount Prospect Republican Representative David Harris said it’s just another piecemeal approach.

“So next month we’re gonna come back, of course it will only take 60 votes next month, but we’re doing things piecemeal. We can pass these things. We need to come to an agreement. Get a full budget.”

Democratic Representative Jack Franks agreed the measure is piecemeal but also highlighted other significant problems facing the state.

“Our current credit rating is not only the worst in the country, it’s one of the worst in the world. So let’s not pretend that we’re solving our problems today, we’re simply delaying the hard choices.”

Franks, who supported the measure, also said it’s quite possible Governor Bruce Rauner will give another budget address without a budget being in place and called on the governor to keep the legislature in Springfield to work on an entire budget.

IML: Happy local money could be on the way

Over $200 million could be on the way to local governments across the state, pending final action in the Senate, but the measure will add to the state’s deficit spending. Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole says he’s happy to finally see some movement on the local funds.

“Overall between motor fuel tax, use tax, the video gaming and casino revenues, we’re talking about $225 million statewide that have not been released to municipalities.”

Governor Bruce Rauner also said he’s mostly happy with the measure because he’s concerned about public safety issues such as funding for road salt, 9-1-1 services and other essential services and that led to some compromises.

“And I want to make sure that we have safe public safety, whether for travel or for police officer, etcetera, etcetera. And what we did was compromise. There were things in the bill I’d preferred weren’t there.”

The governor wouldn’t say what items in the measure he disagreed with but did acknowledge the measure, which altogether spends nearly $3 billion, adds to the state’s deficit spending. Rauner said the measure was about compromise and getting local governments money for essential public safety.

The measure, which found bipartisan support, now heads to the Senate for a concurrence vote, which is expected Monday, according to the Senate President’s office.

Unemployment Insurance measure passed

An agreed upon measure to update unemployment insurance before ramps in costs to employers and decreases in benefits for the unemployed now heads to the governor’s desk. Before passing lawmakers from both sides of the aisle applauded the effort as a sign of true bipartisanship, not just between Republicans and Democrats, but also business and labor.

Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy said up to this point seniors were not included in negotiations to get rid of the social security offset.

“They weren’t at the table and until my constitution Nancy Solomon started speaking up and getting her friends to call you guys it wasn’t an issue. So I want to thank you all for getting us to this place and for proving that one woman like Nancy can in fact make a difference.”

Republican Representative Keith Wheeler said the bill is a sign of the General Assembly working together to improve the state’s business climate.

“This bill shows we can make progress. We’ve got a lot more we can do but we can do it.”

The House concurred with a Senate Amendment to House Bill 1285 unanimously and the measure now heads to the Governor.

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