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State Budget Impasse Could Last Until Spring 2016

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 11, 2015 8:51PM

Photo credit: John Gress/Getty Images

Though some funding stalled by the now six-month-long budget impasse in Illinois is trickling out, the state will not see a budget until next year, and possibly not until spring. Legislation signed by Governor Bruce Rauner this week released $3.1 billion in funding, which will go to Illinois municipalities, the state lottery, community colleges, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LHEAP), which provides subsidies to low income families for heating costs.

Cities like Evanston, which will receive some $900,000, according to the Daily Northwestern, will use that funding to pay city employees and maintenance costs. According to the Chicago Tribune, Des Plaines is owed about $12 million. Lottery payouts for amounts more than $600 are expected to begin on Monday.

This however, is by no means an end to a beleaguered state’s budget woes. Rauner has been using budget negotiations to push his “Turnaround Agenda,” which Democrats vehemently oppose. Democrats want to see revenue increases, now that the state’s income tax has lapsed from 5 percent to 3.5 percent.

“"A good place to begin is the level we were at before income tax expired, starting there then go any direction you want to go,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said during a speech at the City Club on Wednesday, according to ABC7.

But the two parties are unlikely to find common ground anytime soon. Rauner refuses to move forward until Democrats accept his agenda.

“It looks now most likely January to April. K? Persistence. Persistence. Stay strong,” Rauner said at a manufacturer's conference, NPR reports.

Meanwhile, a coalition of community groups and faith leaders plan to hold a rally at noon on Monday at the Thompson Center. Participants will purchase lottery tickets there, and donate any winnings to state-funded agencies whose services aren't covered by the funding package, or face cuts down the road. In a press release on Friday, the Responsible Budget Coalition wrote:

“While lottery players win large amounts of money, seniors are losing meals, children are losing epilepsy and autism services, college students are losing MAP grants, sexual assault victims are losing services, teens are losing after school programs, and families are losing shelter and mental health services.”