State: Senate OKs, Rauner signs $3B spending bill

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — A bill to get some tax money into the hands of local governments and pay lottery winners sailed through the Senate on Monday and gained the governor’s almost-immediate signature.

By a vote of 53-0, the Senate gave its nod to House amendments to Senate Bill 2039, sending the measure to the governor’s office, which then announced Gov. Bruce Rauner had signed it.

While the state remains without an overall budget, the bill does authorize $3.1 billion in spending.

It includes about $2 billion in purpose-collected cash for costs such as local road work and 911 centers. It frees up the local shares of video gaming and riverboat casino money.

Further, the legislation authorizes $1 billion to pay state lottery players, who’ve had to accept vouchers for winnings larger than $600.

Additionally, the measure authorizes the use of about $28 million from the state’s general funds to pay for items including energy bill assistance for the needy.

Senate Bill 2039 also covers certain state government costs, most notably for the secretary of state.

That office handles major, statewide services such as driver and vehicle licensing and processes volumes of sensitive data. Secretary Jesse White’s staff had warned of lapses in cyber-security should the state be unable to meet its obligations to tech vendors and they were to stop providing services.

Among other things, the bill also helps fund the operations of Illinois State Police and the agency’s crime labs, as well as to pay for certain statewide police and fire training and shared services.

Discussion in the Senate was brief.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, described the bill as a compromise negotiated among the four legislative caucuses and the Republican governor’s office.

“This puts local money back into the hands of local government,” Cullerton said.

Senate Republican Deputy Leader Matt Murphy said he hoped the collaboration might indicate better days ahead for compromises and perhaps for reaching a deal on an overall budget.

“What you see with this bill is, frankly, evidence that the governor can reach across the aisle and that you can reach back and we can all get on the same page and do good things together for the general good of the people we all represent,” Murphy said.

Illinois is in the sixth month of fiscal year 2016 without a full budget as the GOP and Democrats remain at loggerheads.

Meanwhile, the state is spending at a pace that could put it $5 billion into the red for this fiscal year as it funds primary and secondary education, satisfies its debt service and pays for items demanded by court orders, consent decrees and in continuing appropriations.

The General Assembly is next scheduled to return to Springfield on Jan. 13.

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