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Senate offers spending authority to governor to honor contracts

sullivan sb2059

Today, Illinois Senate Democrats voted to give Gov. Bruce Rauner the financial ability to honor the contracts he has signed on the state’s behalf.

Senate Bill 2059, sponsored by Senators Heather Steans and Donne Trotter, includes spending authority for the governor to fund social service programs, higher education, school construction, environmental protection, public transportation and metropolitan planning. This funding is for programs and services that are not currently receiving funding for this year from court orders or consent decrees.

As Gov. Rauner’s impasse with the Legislature over a state budget continues, human service providers statewide are closing their doors because the state has not paid them since July. The same is true for public universities around the state.

Mental health services, seniors’ home delivered meals, methamphetamine treatment, foreclosure prevention, disaster relief, job training, highway safety and the state’s poison control center are among the programs on which the governor can choose to spend appropriated funds already obligated in signed contracts.

"In my own back yard, students from Chicago State juggle jobs, school work and their home lives,” said Sen. Trotter. “They do not need the insurmountable obstacle of a valueless degree because their school shut down. They do not need the burden of deciding to drop out or flee our state because their promised funding failed to arrive.

"Today, we're making sure our great public institutions remain open and students remain in class."

The Senate approved the measure on a 39-18 vote and will send it to the House for their consideration.

Other senators’ reactions to SB 2059’s passage:

State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake): “One of the worst effects of this budget impasse is its impact on those who are trying their hardest to find work in an economy that is ignoring them. Job training and funding for public libraries – which have become important resources for people seeking employment – are crucial.”

Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston): “Right now 90 percent of Illinois government is moving along on autopilot because of court orders and consent decrees. The other 10 percent is on the verge of shutting down. That 10 percent is just as vital as the other 90 percent. What’s being allowed to happen in Illinois is completely irrational and patently unfair. We need a spending plan, we need to hammer out a way to pay for it and we need to do what’s right for Illinois before it’s too late to recover.”

Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton): “Any ‘pro-growth’ agenda must include a commitment to the Illinois system of higher education. SIU in Edwardsville attracts students throughout the Midwest and is essential to our economic future, as well as our students’ futures.”

Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora): “It is our duty to approve a budget for the governor to consider, and it is long past time for him to approve one. Mental health, safety measures like the Poison Control Center and ensuring the state honors its contract with Amtrak are just some of the priorities that are addressed in this legislation.”

Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights): “Last week, I stood with hundreds of Governors State University students who came out in support of funding for MAP grants and higher educational facilities. Those students currently have no assurance that they will be able to come back to school next semester. For a state to have a bright economic future full of talented and skilled workers, it must invest in higher education.”

Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton): “State schools deserve state support,” Forby said. “SIU is the economic engine of our region. The fact that more than 300 faculty and administrative professionals could be laid off is outrageous.”

Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park): “We need to continue to look for ways to grow rail systems in Illinois to draw more students and attract economic opportunities to central Illinois. I hope the governor will work with us to deliver a responsible solution and reinstate funding to provide seniors with the necessary resources to live independent lives. Vital community organizations like the Glendale Heights Center for Seniors are looking for answers, it’s about time that the governor gives it to them.”

Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago): "Today in Springfield, I stood with the people who have marched in the streets of Chicago, filled the hallways of the state capitol and sent thousands of messages to us and the governor about the budget impasse. It's time to put an end to the uncertainty of Illinois' future. The first step is to provide the basic social services and education funding that we owe the public."

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago): “The last thing we need is for our students and future teachers to be harmed by the state’s budget impasse the governor caused. If we want to recruit quality teachers to work in schools where students need help the most, then supporting Grow Your Own Teachers must be a priority.”

Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago): “We have seen a set of priorities that do not reflect the priorities of the state as a whole. This measure may not be the most ideal method of dealing with the problem, but these programs are disappearing, and when they are gone, that’s it. They won’t be coming back. Our most vulnerable citizens, however, are not going away. We need to take care of them.”

Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign): “Amtrak service in Champaign-Urbana draws prospective students and employees to the University of Illinois. I’m glad the governor abandoned his plan to eliminate Amtrak funding. Cutting funding for Amtrak is counterproductive. We need to continue to look for ways to grow rail systems in Illinois to draw more students and attract economic opportunities to central Illinois."

Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey): “We’ve left a lot of people in need without support and threatened the education of our young people for far too long. I was sent to Springfield to help improve our communities. We need to stop the partisan politics and pass a budget to keep our communities from deteriorating.”

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood): “Though I am frustrated that the governor has been unwilling to fund higher education, I intend to continue supporting legislation that gives him an opportunity to honor the state’s commitment to students needing aid for college and demonstrate that higher education is a priority.”

Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet): “This measure can restore Meals on Wheels. It supports the drug, mental health and veterans courts, which are more effective than imprisonment. And it signals to students awaiting MAP grants that the state plans to honor its obligation to them. Comptroller Munger made clear that getting in the queue at her office is the essential first step toward a non-profit provider a student, or a vendor getting the funds promised to them. Passage of SB 2059 gives the governor the authority to prioritize human services and higher education in the payment line at the Comptroller’s office.”

Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines): “These funds are absolutely necessary to ensure that services are available for those living with autism, epilepsy and other developmental disabilities. Dozens of local families have contacted me, scared about what will happen to their loved ones if the state budget impasse continues. This legislation provides the funds necessary to ensure their loved ones receive the best care possible."