Illinois Senate sends piecemeal funding bill to governor

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 3:27 PM

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Another piece of Illinois' unfinished fiscal 2016 budget fell into place on Monday with the state Senate's unanimous passage of a bill to send $3.1 billion to local governments, lottery winners, bondholders and others.

The Senate vote, which followed last week's approval by the state House of Representatives, sends the measure to Governor Bruce Rauner, who signaled his intention to sign it into law after the bill was expanded to include his funding priorities.

An impasse between the Republican governor and Democrats who control the Legislature has left the fifth most populous U.S. state without a complete budget nearly halfway into fiscal 2016. Various court orders and appropriations have kept money flowing to state workers and for some services, pensions and most bond payments. The only budget bill signed by the governor funded primary and secondary public schools.

The newly passed bill will send $1 billion to lottery winners, $582 million in motor fuel taxes to local governments, $77 million for local 911 emergency centers, $165 million to help poor residents pay for heating and cooling costs, and $31 million for state road salt purchases this winter.

It also covers debt service on about $41 million of insured state civic center bonds that have a $13.1 million payment due on Dec. 15.

The lack of appropriations sparked lawsuits by lottery winners and a few local governments against the state.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Peter Cooney)