Rauner: Compromise near on partial-year budget
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday he's close to a compromise with Democratic lawmakers on a partial-year budget plan with just three days left in the fiscal year, but said that's not the case on legislation he favors to open public schools on time.
The Republican told reporters he wants the House and Senate, which return to session on Wednesday for the first time in a month, to OK the plans and keep government operating past the close of the budget year on Thursday.
Rauner was flanked in his state Capitol office by several mayors, including Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, who called the plan a good idea -- at least for now.
"This takes us to some point in the future where we have a financially sustainable plan," Chirico said. "It's not a solution, it's a bridge."
Rauner, who for the second year has been unable to negotiate a full-year blueprint with Democrats who control the General Assembly, claims Democrats won't ensure the school bell rings in August unless Rauner capitulates to a "bailout" for the financially troubled Chicago Public Schools. Rauner proposed a $235 million increase in school spending in his plan.
Democrats said they want to change the formula used to distribute state money to schools to make it fairer and that Chicago needs a funding boost because its schools have been shortchanged by that formula.
Illinois is the only state without a budget agreement for this fiscal year, and is on the brink of starting its second year without one. The governor has insisted on cost-cutting changes in law to boost business, freeze property taxes, curb union influence, and adopt political term limits and fairer ways to draw legislative districts. Democrats contend the priority should be spending cuts and a tax increase to get control of a multibillion-dollar deficit.
Rauner has put aside his so-called "turnaround agenda" in the interest of partial fixes. But the measures introduced by Republican legislative leaders in late May for a partial budget and school spending were inadequate, Democrats said.
• Daily Herald reporter Kerry Lester contributed.