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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

State Legislature Is Back In Session

State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield today after a two-week spring break to begin work on a budget compromise for next year. A Senate hearing yesterday could indicate a tough road ahead.

Cities and counties in Illinois would see their share of state money cut in half under Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget. Rauner also proposed eliminating state assistance for foster children over age 18.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, once a state representative herself, says the state’s budget woes aren’t the result of anything her city did…but rather the state putting off hard choices.

“The local governments can’t do that; we have to balance our budgets every year,” Prussing said. “If cities were running the state, I think the state would be in better shape right now than it is.”

Prussing says her biggest cost and biggest complaint is state-mandated pension increases, like a recent bump to firefighters. Governor Rauner says one solution to pension mandates could be for a local government to declare bankruptcy.

“Today it’s illegal,” Rauner said. “The special interests who want to just force taxpayers to spend more even though the compensation may be way above mark and unaffordable.”

Rauner told CBS Chicago yesterday he’s pushing for local governments’ ability to declare bankruptcy, which is something the state cannot do.

After five hours of testimony against Governor Bruce Rauner’s suggested budget cuts, Marlin Livingston, the CEO of Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana, took the mic.

Livingston says eliminating state assistance would leave young adults homeless.

“We have 43 kids here locally…and they want to know -- because they’re not stupid -- they want to know where they’re going to live at on July 1," Livingston said. "So what do you want me to tell them?”

Livingston says the state’s continued support of foster children from ages 18 to 21 provides care that could prevent wards of the state from ending up in the criminal justice system.

Rauner’s proposed budget would cut $167 million from the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. Lawmakers will spend the next month and a half debating that, along with $2 billion of other potential cuts.

  • Hannah Meisel contributed to this report.
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