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Illinois Democrats Pass "Lifeline" For Colleges and Social Services

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Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives Thursday passed a plan to send more than $800 million to human services and universities. They call it a “lifeline” for programs facing catastrophe.

No Republicans joined them, saying a temporary fix just removes the urgency to enact a real budget. "The reality is we don’t do things around here without pressure. And so we need that pressure to get to a full budget,” said Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva).

But Democrats say they're desperate to get available money from incoming tax revenue to the state universities and social services that have been on life support for months. The measure would approve $815 million dollars for things like homeless services, domestic violence programs, and MAP grants for low-income college students.

“If you think that we’re still waiting for the steam to blow the top off the tea kettle? Well that water is already boiling,” said Rep. Juliana Stratton (D-Chicago).

Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he's not going to support any temporary spending plans from lawmakers like he ended up doing last summer.

In the meantime, Rauner and Republicans have joined Democrats in supporting a different sort of stopgap -- paying state employees during the budget impasse.

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois. He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield. He graduated from Macalester College. Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.
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