Illinois Senators Pass Spending Bill As Budget Impasse Continues

Mar 17, 2016

Illinois senators voted along party lines Thursday on legislation that would spend $3.8 billion dollars to fund higher education and human services.

Sen. John Sullivan in Springfield.
Credit Sarah Mueller WUIS

  The legislation would get money to areas that have gone without state funding for nine months as a partisan standoff continues in Springfield.

Democrats say it's time for the state to live up to its promises. But even if the measure makes through House too, it's likely the governor will veto it. That has Republicans calling it a "phony" promise.

Republican Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said it's wrong for legislators from both parties to keep voting against each other just to stay elected.

"It's not easy for everyone to make those tough decisions," he said. "But we should never make it based on what we think the political powers are going to do to us, to either support us or not support us."

The governor's office said the plan would add another nearly $4 billion dollars to the state's deficit.

“Senate Democrats today admitted that this bill would do nothing to help higher education, MAP students or social services because there is no money to pay for it," said Catherine Kelly, press secretary for the governor.

  Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said he doesn't understand why Republicans have said the state has the money for elementary education but not for higher education.

"How do you figure that," he asked on the Senate floor. "How does that make any rational sense at all for you to stand up and the comments you did here today?"

Rauner has pressed lawmakers to hurry, and increase funding for kindergarten through high school. The measure heads to the House for consideration.