Shared priorities, common ground yield budget action (AUDIO)

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Senate President John Cullerton released the following statement after the Senate passed a package of budget measures to keep schools open and social services, colleges and road jobs moving:

jjc 063016“My priority all along has been for the state to provide the resources so that schools can open and stay open at the end of summer. This budget accomplishes that goal. Obviously the governor and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, but in our recent meetings we’ve been able to identify shared priorities and common ground. We’re going to need to continue to build on both to get our state to where it needs to be. But, for now, today’s success fuels my optimism that grander things are in our future.” (AUDIO)

With the end of the budget year just a day away, the Illinois Senate on Thursday passed a comprehensive spending measure to try to stave off potential economic disaster for the state. Measures approved  would provide state funding for human services, K-12 public schools, universities and community colleges, early childhood education and after-school programs, state road construction projects, various statewide capital projects and more.

Additional measures begin to reconcile the differences in state support for teacher pensions across the state and allow the Chicago Board of Education to tap local resources to support Chicago Public Schools.

The package of legislation will go to Gov. Bruce Rauner to be signed into law. Senate Democrats responded to today’s action:

Senator Heather Steans: “I look forward to a continued conversation about responsible budgeting and the revenue and reforms needed to sustain it. While pressure can incite action, it can also take a tremendous human toll on individuals and families who are in no way to blame for the state’s fiscal crisis. That’s the wrong way to govern, but we’ve seen it happen time and again in the past year and a half, and it will continue unless we not only budget appropriately for the future but repair the damage inflicted during the impasse.” (AUDIO)

Senator Don Harmon: “Although the agreement that was reached is neither perfect nor complete, it is the right thing to do as we attempt to recover from months of paralysis in Springfield. I commend my colleagues in the Senate and the House and the members of the governor’s staff who found a way to come together under difficult circumstances. I hope the momentum they created will carry us into the next phase of budget negotiations.”

Senator Kwame Raoul: “When we lay aside partisan talking points and step away from lines in the sand, we can rebuild badly frayed trust and agree on the basics: education, public safety, investment in communities, health care resources and compassionate, quality services for the most vulnerable among us.”

Senator Daniel Biss: “This partial budget deal, which was struck after weeks of negotiations, is a welcome sign that lawmakers of both parties and representatives of the governor’s office can sit down and come to agreement on a budget. It is evidence that it’s easier to work out a deal when the people at the table are able to tune out the political distractions that can get in the way. It is also a far cry from what everyone agrees Illinois ultimately needs, which is a balanced budget that funds our priorities. I hope that we can build on today's progress to move in that direction as quickly as possible."

trotter 063016Senator Jacqueline Collins: “I am grateful for the opportunity I had today to vote to fund services that are absolutely vital to the quality of life of my constituents and all Illinoisans, including mental health care, addiction treatment, meals for the elderly, rehabilitation for ex-offenders and of course education and mentoring for our most precious resource, our youth. Much of this funding will only carry us through the first six months of the fiscal year, and the sad reality is that many providers have already closed their doors or laid off staff. We must build on the trust renewed by today’s compromise so we can rebuild the infrastructures that give hope to struggling individuals, families and communities.”

Senator Andy Manar: “We can and must do better for all of Illinois’ students from Cairo to Chicago to ensure that they have an equal chance to succeed. Moving forward, we need to use these new funding levels as the basis for a conversation on how we can permanently change the funding formula to improve outcomes for all students.”

Senator Melinda Bush: “I’m not going to act like today is a victory, because we never should have gotten to this point. The hard work of governing the state has just begun. The media outlets, taxpayers and humanitarian workers who demand a full budget are right: We need to do our job.”

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant: “It should not have taken this long. However, I am glad a bipartisan plan could be reached. Our schools will be fully funded, higher education and human services will get much needed relief, and our construction projects will continue.”

Senator Gary Forby: “Today’s action was about ensuring our schools are adequately funded and ready to open on time,” Forby said. “This also about keeping thousands of road and construction jobs in Southern Illinois. The legislation we passed today will put an end to the nonsense in Springfield and get Southern Illinois back on track.” 

Senator Donne Trotter: “Preserving institutions of learning and historic sites can keep our communities intact,” said Trotter, chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee. “These funds will help Olive-Harvey Community College become Chicago’s hub for transportation and logistics education. Completing the new logistics center will attract students and prepare them for high-paying jobs.”(AUDIO)

Senator Bill Haine: “What we passed today will help keep jobs in the Metro East by ensuring IDOT has the resources to keep its road construction projects going. But that’s not the only win we had today. If the governor honors his commitment and signs this legislation, human services agencies like Senior Service Plus, Impact CIL and St. John’s Community Care will finally receive some of the relief they need to keep their doors open and serve seniors and those with disabilities.”

lightford 063016Senator Pat McGuire: “As we close the book on this budget year, we have to step back and examine how things became this precarious,” McGuire said. “Tens of thousands of people have had to go without vital human services because of the gamesmanship here in Springfield. This cannot happen again.”

Senator Tom Cullerton: “The key to economic growth is strong and sound infrastructure in Illinois,” Cullerton said. “Construction projects like High Ridge Road next to Willowbrook High School, will ensure our children’s safety as they commute to school. These types of projects not only create short-term jobs for men and women throughout Illinois but keeps us competitive as businesses look to invest in our communities.” 

Senator Kimberly Lightford: “Quality educational opportunities can only come when students are in school, teachers have necessary resources in the classroom and parents have faith that the level of education their child is receiving is outstanding. We need to continue working toward equitable funding for our schools, however making sure doors would open in the fall is a top priority right now.” (AUDIO)

Senator Dave Koehler: “Maintaining Illinois Infrastructure is vital to the people and the economy of Illinois. We voted to keep our road crews on the job and to keep drivers safe on Illinois roads.”  

State Senator Napoleon Harris: “If we really care about the direction Illinois is going, we need to continue to put our children first. Education is a fundamental right and we need to deliver the resources to give our children a bright future. We know there is still work to do, but keeping schools open and providing valuable services that offer positive experiences for our youth should always be considered a worthwhile investment.”

Senator Julie Morrison: “Today’s vote guarantees a number of vital construction projects across the state continue as planned,” Morrison said. “Locally, the reconstruction of Deerfield Road between Highland Park and Deerfield was facing the potential of ceasing construction as early as tomorrow, which would have caused increased traffic delays and the potential for safety concerns for motorists.”

Senator John Mulroe: “After all this time, we now have an agreed spending package for the remaining portions of the budget. This proposal isn’t perfect, but I am happy that all parties met in the middle to find a solution.”

holmes consolSenator Linda Holmes: “When we come to the negotiating table in good faith, we can do good things for our best and brightest students and our most vulnerable citizens. That’s our duty – not just as a government but as a society. Let’s get back to Springfield soon and finish that work in the same spirit as today’s compromises.”

 Senator Mattie Hunter: “It’s a shame that Illinois’ most vulnerable residents have suffered during the budget impasse. Human service programs are critical to our state. Due to the lack of resources and help, we’ve been fighting to keep the doors of our human service providers open to keep these people alive.”

Senator Iris Martinez: "Today is an example of the good that can happen when the governor sets aside his agenda that’s aimed at harming working families. This agreement invests in Chicago Public Schools, gets needed aid to human service providers, supports colleges and students and ensures immigrants will have the ability to access services that will help them fulfill their potential."

Senator Steve Stadelman: “This proposal should help alleviate some of the funding issues Rock Valley Community College has faced during the budget impasse. Funding higher education should not be a partisan issue, and today is an example of the positive things the legislature and governor can do when they work together.”

Senator Tony Munoz: “As Chicago continues to struggle with crime and violence, one thing is clear: We cannot stop advancing our youth and taking care of our most vulnerable populations. Our work as a legislature is far from finished, but this is a small relief to many families in my district.”

Senator Laura Murphy: “Today’s vote is vital for schools across the state, many of which were facing the prospect of not being able to open their doors on time this fall. It is also vital for Illinois’ countless human services providers who have kept providing services for some of our most vulnerable residents while not receiving any funding from the state since this budget impasse began last summer.”