Illinois Lawmakers Pass Short-Term Budget Deal

By Daarel Burnette II — July 01, 2016 1 min read
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Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a temporary budget solution Thursday that will keep the state’s schools open and send money to Chicago’s school district to pay down their teacher pension fund, according to the Associated Press.

Illinois is the only state in the country without a full working budget for the year that ended yesterday. Many feared the Democratic-controlled legislature wouldn’t be able to compromise with Gov. Rauner on a spending plan for this upcoming fiscal year before Thursday’s deadline, potentially forcing a shutdown of the state’s schools.

Democrats have been pushing for a complete overhaul of the state’s funding formula, which is heavily reliant on local tax dollars, while Gov. Rauner is pushing to instead fully fund the existing funding formula. Rauner has opposed a bailout of the Chicago school district, which has an estimated $20 billion of debt.

Thursday’s deal scraps together $75 billion mostly from a series of emergency funds to keep the majority of the state’s public agencies, state colleges, and public schools operating for the next six months. Of that $75 billion, $25 billion will pay bills from the last fiscal year and another $50 billion will go toward paying bills for the upcoming fiscal year.

The state’s public schools will get a total of $11 billion to stay open for a full school year.

Chicago’s school district will get $100 million in state aid as part of a fund to tackle statewide poverty and a promise of an additional $202 million to pay down their teacher pension fund. Chicago will be allowed to raise $250 million in property taxes to help pay down the pension payments.

To get a better sense of the Chicago’s financial woes, check out this story my colleagues Stephen Sawchuk and Denisa R. Superville wrote in May.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.