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For the first time in a year, the state of Illinois is operating under a budget. Last week the General Assembly passed, and the governor signed, a bipartisan, compromise spending plan to provide funding for human services, higher education, and basic operational expenses for the next six months. This plan also funds ongoing road projects and includes full K-12 funding for Fiscal Year 2017. This is not a complete budget nor a solution to Illinois’ ongoing fiscal challenges. It addresses the most basic needs of the state and only takes us through the end of this year.
Here is a summary of what is included:
Pre School-Grade 12 Education
Full year of funding for fiscal year 2017
An additional $250 million to assist high poverty schools
$75 million increase to early childhood education
$1 billion in funding for universities, community colleges, MAP Grants (for low income college students), adult education, career & technical education, Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy operations.
Includes $667 million for programs not currently operating under consent decree or court order. Restores funding for programs that were suspended due to the budget impasse, such as services for the homeless, autism programs, anti-violence programs, funeral and burial services for the indigent, AIDS/HIV services, immigration services, Teen Reach & other youth programs.
The bill includes appropriations for Illinois Department of Transportation projects, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency projects and other development projects that had to shut down mid-construction due to lack of funding.
Despite the enacted spending plan, we are short of what is needed for full operations and we will need to address our revenue shortfall before the end of the first six months of this fiscal year. While this compromise represents progress, I would have liked to have passed a full year’s balanced budget with sufficient revenues. A complete budget would have brought more stability and certainty for residents and businesses. I will continue to advocate for a truly responsible solution to restore the fiscal health of our state.