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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

State Sen. Democrats Seek Support On Partial Government Spending Plan

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois Senate Democrats are hoping to win bipartisan support for a partial government spending plan.


The proposal would release more than $800 million that’s been collected in special state accounts for higher education and human services — neither of which has been fully funded since summer 2015.


Those areas have been particularly squeezed during the 22-month budget stalemate.


The House Democrats called it a “lifeline” bill. House Republicans voted against the measure, saying it undercut pressure to get a comprehensive budget deal.


But Senate Democrats, like Heather Steans of Chicago, hope to negotiate support from Republicans.


“There is a sense of urgency,” she said. “I think both the Senate President (John Cullerton) and Leader (Christine) Radogno have been expressing a sense of urgency. So we’re hoping to make progress and do so quickly. They’ve both given us that direction, seriously.”


The Senate is expected to make changes to the spending bill passed by the House. Those details are still being worked out among Democrats.


Republican Sen. Karen McConnaughay, from St. Charles, says she and her colleagues are open to working together, but she’s wary of easing the pressure on lawmakers to pass a complete budget.


“We really need to discipline ourselves to get to a balanced budget,” she said, “and avoid shortcuts or temporary solutions that are just once again more band-aids on a problem that we just cannot continue to escape."

The legislation passed the House last month without Republican support.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has criticized what he called another “stopgap” spending plan, saying it won’t lead to a balanced budget.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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