Illinois finally has a budget. For six months at least. That’s time enough to get through the November election.
On June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, after going a year without a budget, the state legislature finally reached an agreement with Governor Bruce Rauner and approved a host of measures amounting to a budget.
The stop-gap budget fully funds state aid to local school districts for the 2016-17 school year, ensuring that schools will open on time, and also fully funds road projects for the entire year.
Forest Park Elementary School District 91 is expected to receive an 11 percent increase in general state aid in the coming school year according to figures provided by a Senate Democratic staffer. D91 general state aid is expected to increase by about $111,000 to around $1.12 million next year.
Proviso Township High School District 209 will get more than a million dollars in additional general state aid under the bill. General state aid to D209 is projected to increase by 12 percent from nearly $12 million this year to nearly $13.5 million next year.
The parts of the state budget that have dedicated revenue sources are funded for a full year while the parts of budget that are funded by general state revenue, such as payments to social service providers, are only funded for six months.
Some human service providers who have contracts with the state have had to cut services and lay off employees over the past year as a result of the state not paying its bills.
They will get some relief temporarily and a much-needed infusion of cash.
“Our human service providers have kept their commitment to the most vulnerable populations in our state throughout this impasse,” said state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) in a statement issued after the budget bill was passed. “I’m glad we’re able to provide some funding to keep them going as this fight continues.”
The compromise agreement came after a yearlong standoff between Rauner and the Democratic-controlled legislature led by longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Rauner wanted major changes, what he calls his “turnaround agenda,” in collective bargaining rights, workman’s compensation rules, and a property tax freeze before he would support a tax increase.
In the compromise, none of the issues Rauner focused on were addressed. No tax increase was passed but the legislature did pass legislation allowing the Chicago Board of Education to increase property taxes in Chicago to pay for pensions of Chicago Public School teachers.
The deal fully funds state aid to local school districts for the first time in seven years and puts an additional $331 million in the state aid pot. An additional $250 million equity grant will go to school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, which has a large percentage of low-income students.
Lightford, who serves as an assistant majority leader in the Senate, and other Senate Democrats had hoped to change the general state aid funding formula. That didn’t get done, but Lightford is happy that state aid to schools was increased and poorer school districts will get an extra boost from the state.
“We need to continue working toward equitable funding for our schools; however, making sure doors would open in the fall is a priority right now,” Lightford said.