Mayors a little closer to getting their state money
Illinois lawmakers Wednesday began approving a rare bipartisan agreement to get some money moving for local mayors, lottery winners and others, but the ongoing budget bickering is leaving some of the recipients distrustful going forward.
The Illinois House voted to send communities gasoline and gambling tax money that the state budget impasse has held up since July 1, along with cash for lottery winners, domestic violence shelters, tourism programs and others.
But a similar attempt stalled weeks ago, and the legislation is needed only because the state spending plan is more than five months late with no final resolution in sight.
Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said his city, which is waiting on casino tax revenue in addition to other money, will have to consider how much it can depend on the state in the future for money that funds capital improvements and other needs.
"I think it's become a matter of trust here," he said.
The House voted 107-1 to send the bill to the Illinois Senate, which could consider sending it to Rauner Monday.
The lone vote against it was state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican who says his party should stick by its commitment not to craft a "piecemeal" budget.
"We should be getting a budget done," he said.
The legislation resembles a proposal from State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, that was approved by the House weeks ago but held up by a procedural move. It add some suggested spending from Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"Representative, we listened to you," state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, told Republican state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove.
"I wish you'd do that more often," Sandack said.
The legislation also includes money for a program that helps pay for low-income Illinoisans' energy bills over the winter and $3 million for the Illinois Math and Science Academy, which had warned its spring semester could be in jeopardy without funds.
Suburban tourism and convention bureaus, heavily dependent on state funding, are hopeful and enthusiastic about tourism money in the plan.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Dave Parulo, president of Meet Chicago Northwest, said while attending a trade show in Baltimore Wednesday.
Schaumburg-based Meet Chicago Northwest, Gurnee-based Visit Lake County and Oak Brook-based DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau said their organizations have collectively seen about $2 million delayed since July.
Des Plaines Mayor Matt Bogusz said casino tax money in particular is used by the city for building projects, so delays -- or potential future cuts -- cause problems.
"It represents jobs and capital infrastructure in Des Plaines," he said.
Wednesday's budget action came a day after a long-touted meeting among Rauner and top lawmakers that ended with no broader spending agreement. Approving one gets easier in January when some legislation needs fewer votes to be approved. Rauner says he'll be in contact with the other leaders and is working to set another meeting next week.
"My sense is we're in a little bit of a treading water phase," Rauner said.
• Daily Herald Business Writer Kim Mikus contributed to this story.