Wednesday, April 13, 2016 08:08 PM
Today, the Illinois Senate passed legislation that could essentially end the 2016 budget year stalemate.
Some 90 percent of the state spending plan already is in place because of various court orders, leaving just higher education and many social services, which serve thousands of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens, left unfunded. This afternoon the Senate concurred with the House on Senate Bill 2046 and approved spending authority for the state’s public universities and social services left unfunded during the budget impasse.
"Decimating our great institutions and eroding the state's safety net are not only backward but inhumane," said Senator Donne Trotter of Chicago, sponsor of the funding plan.
"The people have spoken and we've acted. Now the governor needs to put an end to this nonsensical impasse, because the people of Illinois have had enough."
Senate Bill 2046 would keep the doors open to public institutions, such as Chicago State University, support senior care programs and restore MAP grant funding.
Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) joined his colleagues in ending the impasse.
“Our higher education and human service organizations are on the brink of collapse,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “We have given the governor yet another opportunity to stand with Illinois’ neediest college students and most vulnerable residents.
“I hope that he makes the right choice this time.”
In addition to funding operations for the state’s colleges and universities, Senate Bill 2046 sets aside over $470 million for the Department of Human Services to fund addiction treatment, mental health services and other vital programs.
“Organizations like Stepping Stones, Cornerstone and Trinity do vital work to help people throughout the 43rd District who struggle with drug addiction and who live with mental illness or a developmental disability,” McGuire said. “They are the human cost of the state not honoring its commitment to them.”
“There is no substitute for a comprehensive budget that responsibly balances spending and revenue so the state can move forward with meeting its obligations and planning for the future, but today’s action is urgently needed to slow the bleeding,” said Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th), one of the Senate’s two appropriations committee chairs. “Right now, we have students who have been admitted to college but can’t attend because the state hasn’t come through with promised assistance, one university about to close its doors and lay off hundreds of staff and human services providers unable to continue serving clients.”
“If the governor signs this piece of legislation, we’ll keep talking; we’ll come back to the table to work out a budget plan,” Steans said. “But while we’re talking, the organizations serving our most vulnerable residents can be submitting their vouchers and continuing their important work.”
“I supported today’s action to fund our universities, Medicaid, cancer screenings, and a whole list of human services left in the cold by the governor’s inaction because we’re talking about more than a bottom line on a balance sheet,” Senator Melinda Bush (Grayslake) said. “This is money we already owe, on contracts to which we already agreed for services already rendered. I urge the governor to listen to the people affected by his stubbornness and sign this spending authority into law.”
“Every day my colleagues and I are confronted with sobering reminders of the consequences of Illinois’ historic budget stalemate. In communities throughout the state, organizations that help the poor, the sick, the elderly, the young and the disenfranchised on behalf of state government are closing their doors because they have not been paid," said Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park)." Highly respected public universities and community colleges are preparing what amount to doomsday scenarios because they, too, have received no state money."
“I don’t think we can say it enough: The General Assembly and the governor cannot allow Illinois’ network of human services and higher education to collapse in the short term for the sake of non-budgetary initiatives that require time and effort to negotiate. Shutting down the government is not an option.”
The measure that would allow senior services programs to stay afloat and give SIUE much needed relief had the full support of Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton).
“Enough is enough,” said Haine. “In the past few weeks I have spoken with senior service providers in my district and heard stories about starving seniors, facilities closing and people who don’t know where else to turn. This cannot continue.
“We also approved a plan that would include a commitment to the Illinois system of higher education. I am for a ‘pro-growth’ agenda, and this includes making sure schools like SIU in Edwardsville can continue to provide an outstanding education to students not only in Illinois, but states throughout the Midwest. I urge the governor to act fast on this and to sign this bill.”
“This engineered crisis the governor has created has gone on too long. It was easy six months ago to say ‘oh, it’s bad for those people but it won’t affect me or my family,’" Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) said. "The reality is becoming apparent to people across the state that this budget impasse will have very real and hurtful consequences if we don’t do something. This measure gives the governor spending authority for financial commitments that he chooses to make. Our intention is to ensure that existing contracts and other items get paid to avoid incurring a large and irresponsible bill backlog.”
“The spending authority we passed today represents some of the most crucial services we provide as a state: Higher education, human services that have gone unfunded during this impasse, cancer screenings and even disaster response,” Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) said. “We can’t let our ideological differences harm our college students, our sick, our elderly. I urge the governor to sign this into law.”
"As Gov. Rauner continues to destroy the state’s human services infrastructure and public universities, I won’t remain idle," Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) said. "I will continue to vote for legislation that sends a clear message to the governor: we need to fund programs that help our students, colleges and human services agencies helping the disabled, homeless and other vulnerable populations."
“Today, we again gave the governor an opportunity to stand by his repeated promises to invest in a competitive, compassionate Illinois," said Senator Laura Murphy (D- This proposal prevents further layoffs at community colleges like Harper College, and provides stability for families who depend on state services to care for their loved ones living with disabilities like autism and epilepsy.
“In my district alone, 1,900 students are unsure if they will be able to continue school without access to MAP grants. Dozens of families who depend on services to help their loved ones with autism and epilepsy don’t know how much longer the programs they depend on will last without funding."
“This proposal creates stability for state services the Rockford community depends on, like Rock Valley Community College and the Rosecrance Triage Center," Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). "Without a long-term funding plan, the future of both of these facilities remains in question. The failure of the legislative leaders and governor to come to a compromise jeopardizes the future of both of these facilities. I strongly encourage the governor to take this opportunity to sign this legislation to end the ongoing budget impasse.”
Senator Mattie Hunter of Chicago voted in favor of a budget plan to fund youth-targeted programs and reduce violence.
"Keeping our after-school programs and pipelines to employment open for teens keeps them off of the street," said Hunter, a member of the Senate Human Services Committee. 'Illinois' youth can no longer be used a bargaining chips in distracting debate over the governor's turnaround agenda. In Chicago, having a safe place to go and access to jobs is a matter of life and death for too many of our young people."
“I have said it before and I will say it again: state universities need state funding. SIU is the largest employer in my district, and I refuse to stand by while this important economic driver faces laying off employees," Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said. “With this legislation, MAP grant funding would be released, allowing struggling students to continue to receive a quality education. This is about keeping jobs in Southern Illinois and making sure students have resources to get jobs in the future."
“In addition, with this measure the governor has the ability to release the funding in the contract he signed with Amtrak, and for the youth-based Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center in Benton. I hope the governor will give this heavy consideration before he vetoes yet another plan to get Illinois back on track.”
Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) voted to approve Senate Bill 2046, which would authorize money for local school construction grants. One of those schools is Mundelein High School, which is waiting on more than $8.2 million.
“These schools were promised this money and we need to send it out. Now is not the time for the state to be breaking our promises and expanding the damage done to our credibility,” Link said.
“If the governor is going to continue holding the state and its most vulnerable residents hostage while he demands reforms that would hurt the middle class and aren’t proven to benefit anyone but large corporations and the wealthy, the least he can do is allow universities and service providers to present their bills to the Comptroller and get in line to be paid as soon as the money becomes available,” Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago 16th) said. “We’re in a state of emergency, with Chicago State set to close just 17 days from now and many social services and health care providers already shutting down, and it is the governor’s moral obligation to recognize this and provide relief by signing the measure we’re sending him.”
Chicago State University, which serves a student population that is disproportionately low-income, minority and non-traditional, has announced it will run out of money and close its doors – laying off hundreds of employees, from the president on down – on April 30. Because a large percentage of its students work and/or raise families, many will not be able to transfer to other schools farther from their homes and jobs.
“Illinois desperately needs a sustainable state budget solution that is balanced and fair. Clearly, the Legislature and Gov. Rauner are not in agreement yet on what that means," Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said. “Until we’re able to find common ground, we shouldn’t stand by and watch the slow, painful destruction of many of the things that make us a proud and compassionate state – namely, our network of human service providers and our enviable public universities and community colleges. We must do what we can today to save these institutions as we work together on longer-term reforms to stabilize Illinois’ future."
“I urge Gov. Rauner to sign Senate Bill 2046. It would enable him to offer some relief to victims of the budget stalemate while buying him time to work with Democratic and Republican lawmakers on shared priorities for the state.”