Lawmakers: Budget process “productive”

Illinois Capitol News
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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — It’s the final 48-hours before the state budget deadline strikes. There could be a vote within the next few hours.

Lawmakers have sworn to make the deadline, having called this year’s process “productive.” But, Wednesday, things started out slowly.

Wednesday morning, it looked like they might reach the finish line. A budget hearing, scheduled for 11 am, was abruptly canceled, but by nightfall, there was some action. The pace is picking up.

The first budget bill appeared online and lawmakers hosted the first hearing at 4 pm. The bill just filed is about 1,200 pages.

Here’s what’s known so far:

  • The budget is a $38 million plan. It does not include any tax increased.
  • Governor Bruce Rauner’s Capitol Plan is fully funded including $2.5 billion for IDOT and $53 million for capital improvements at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
  • $63 billion will go toward repaying state workers whose salaries were frozen.
  • State police will get money to pay for 100 new cadets.
  • Through buyouts and other reforms, the state is cutting down on its pension debt by $445 million.

Democrats are pushing back on those details. There is also full MAP Grant funding for Fiscal Year 2018.

Republican Senator Dale Righter says he feels good about things. When asked about the budget during a photo op for hero and Dixon Police Office Mark Dallas, Rauner says he would discuss it at another time.

The momentum is picking up. If all goes well, a vote in both chambers could take place by the end of Wednesday night. Lawmakers are structuring their day to get it done.

A bimp bill is still an uncertainly. It’s the final step to putting a budget into motion. Some other notable details include universities and community colleges seeing a 2% increase in funding. Also, the state has designated $350 million in evidence-based education funding for next year.

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