5 things state lawmakers want funded now

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner faces budget pressure as he is set to give his State of the State address Wednesday.

      Gov. Bruce Rauner faces budget pressure as he is set to give his State of the State address Wednesday. Mary Hansen | Staff Photographer

 
By Mary Hansen
mhansen@dailyherald.com
Updated 1/27/2016 1:03 AM

Gov. Bruce Rauner will deliver his second State of the State address today without having ever signed a full budget, but lawmakers of both parties in the meantime are pushing legislation to pay for some individual programs.

Last month, Democrats and Republicans agreed to pay lottery winners and distribute gasoline tax money to towns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Here's a look at some other proposals being considered, though there's no clear agreement on any of them as Illinois' budget stalemate drags on.

Paying for college

Illinois colleges and universities largely covered the cost of state scholarships for low-income students in the fall semester, floating $168 million to students because the state couldn't pay without a budget.

But in response to a survey by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission conducted in December, many said they could not do the same in the current semester.

State Sen. Pat McGuire, a Chicago Democrat, is asking for $168 million for the Monetary Assistance Program.

Chicago State University officials say they might have to shut down in March.

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And on Monday, Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman sent a budget update letter to the campus. In it he blamed Illinois' financial troubles for EIU's monetary problems.

He said EIU hasn't received its state appropriation of about $40 million.

Glassman laid out immediate cuts including all noninstructional equipment purchases, delaying maintenance and repairs that aren't related to safety and security and freezing employee-reimbursed travel.

Glassman said layoffs and furloughs will be possible if EIU's state appropriate continues to be delayed as the semester continues. He said the school aims not to diminish academic excellence.

Leaky tanks

State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, has called for the state to start paying out money for programs that aren't part of the general checkbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For example, a St. Charles businessman who is reimbursed by the state for pulling old gasoline tanks out of the ground has gone unpaid for any work since July 1 and is facing serious pressure from his bank.

Harris' plan would get money moving for programs like that and others that he says don't contribute to the state's overall deficit.

Meals on Wheels

In December, the DuPage Senior Citizens Council announced it would cut its home-delivered meal service for homebound seniors from five days a week to two and close its community dining sites.

The organization has received just two payments this fiscal year from the state and cut services, said Marylin Krolak, the executive director.

Rep. Deb Conroy, a Villa Park Democrat, filed legislation this month to give $11 million to the program statewide, but the Rauner administration said money is now going out because of a federal consent decree, which requires that the state make payments when it can.

Nursing home for veterans

Former Gov. Pat Quinn broke ground on a 200-bed nursing home facility for veterans on Chicago's Northwest Side in September 2014.

Construction halted on July 1 as the money for the $70.5 million project got caught up in budget fight.

State Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat, proposed legislation to send $60.9 million to continue the project.

Disease prevention

Twenty-one local health departments across the state have been forced to cut staffing and services, as they haven't seen any state funding since July 1.

The state health department told local divisions that it would no longer process lab tests for sexually transmitted infections and would shift those resources to identifying disease outbreaks and biological threats.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, a Democrat from Evanston, proposed legislation for $17 million from the general checkbook for local health departments. State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, filed complementary legislation in the Senate.

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

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