Illinois lawmakers approve stopgap budget

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Thursday marked the end of Illinois’ fiscal year 2016, and citizens anticipated results of a day-long legislative session in Springfield, which finally turned out a stopgap budget.

“The stopgap budget passed by the House and Senate today is not perfect, but this provides vitally important funds that our communities desperately need,” State Representative Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) stated in a news release.

Both houses passed Senate Bill 2047 on Thursday — the final vote of 54-0 took place in the Senate — to fund prisons, veterans’ homes and other operations for the next six months. Rauner signed the bill into law shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, the legislation allows the state to fully fund K-12 education, ending seven years of prorated school funding and bringing to rest concerns about schools’ abilities to open in the fall.

“Given the level of partisanship that controls the process, this plan is a positive step forward. It’s not ideal. It’s not what I worked for and hoped for, and I’m disappointed we essentially went a year without a state budget in place,” State Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) said. “But it is a good start, it breaks the impasse and it accomplishes a number of funding goals without a tax increase.”

The stopgap measure OK’d Thursday also means IDOT’s Route 3 improvement project in Waterloo will continue without delay. IDOT is also performing resurfacing work on North Main Street in Columbia. Contractors for both projects received letters from IDOT to resume work but had already called off for the day on Friday. They will continue on schedule Tuesday.

After the budget passed, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and several GOP leaders held a press conference congratulating Republicans on their efforts in the budget battle. Republicans and Democrats remain divided on a full fiscal year 2017 budget.

For the full story on the stopgap budget and its effects locally, read next week’s Republic-Times.

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