Illinois Senate gives final nod to one-month state budget

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2015 2:44 PM

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Illinois Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a $2.26 billion, one-month budget that Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly said he will reject.

The Democratic-controlled chamber voted 39-0 to send the measure to the Republican governor, with 15 members voting "present." The Senate had to take up the bill a second time after the Democratic-controlled House last week amended it to add a provision ensuring state workers would be paid in full and on time during July.

An impasse between the governor and Democratic lawmakers has left Illinois without a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, prompting lawmakers to offer the stop-gap measure of a single month's budget. Democrats have been holding out for spending cuts and new revenue, while Rauner wants lawmakers to adopt controversial reforms, including legislative term limits and a local property tax freeze, before he will entertain new revenue.

"Governor Rauner is committed to enacting a true balanced budget and real reforms to grow the economy and free up resources to protect the most vulnerable," his spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement.

Powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan urged Rauner to sign the temporary budget and told reporters that his chamber intended to take up further piecemeal appropriation bills.

The Senate attempted to address Rauner's demand on property taxes with a bill calling for a two-year freeze, along with providing pension funding relief for the Chicago Public Schools, and setting the stage for revamping the state's school funding formula. But the bill fell four votes short of passage on Wednesday, although further votes are possible.

Republicans said it did not contain necessary cost-saving measures, including limits on collective bargaining, that would help local governments and schools cope with the freeze.

Senate Democrats overrode Rauner's vetoes of five of the full-year fiscal 2016 budget bills that Democrats passed in May. The governor rejected all but the K-12 education budget bill, contending the $36 billion spending plan was short $4 billion in revenue.

The fate of the veto overrides was uncertain in the House, where all 71 Democrats would have to vote to override, but not every Democrat originally voted for all of the full-year budget bills.

Meanwhile, state workers owed paychecks on Wednesday received them, according to the Illinois Comptroller's office. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the state supreme court on Monday to decide on the constitutionality of paying workers in the absence of an enacted budget.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay)