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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Lawmakers Say Stakes Are High To Pass Budget In Special Session; Note Lack Of Activity


The Illinois Legislature wrapped up its third day of a special session. Gov. Bruce Rauner called the meeting to force a budget deal before July 1, when the state crosses into its second year without a full spending plan.

A northwest Illinois state senator said the special session so far has been an exercise in frustration.

Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, likened the session to a classic sitcom.  

“[It] reminds me a little bit of the original Seinfeld show," he said, “where it was a show about nothing. That’s kind of what’s going on right now. There’s nothing going on. The Senate was gaveled in and ten minutes later was gaveled out, and nothing occurred.”

Bivins said a failure to do so would halt state road projects at the height of the construction season and threaten already-strapped social service agencies.

Illinois’ top fiscal officer, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, agrees that the state budget crisis could soon go from bad to worse.

Mendoza said if the General Assembly and governor cannot reach a compromise, Illinois will not have enough money on hand to comply with all its court-ordered spending.

“The state of Illinois in the month of August will not be able to meet its core priorities, including schools,” she said. “We’re talking about pension payments. We’re talking about payroll for the state of Illinois. We are talking about lots of things that today are protected by court order that will no longer be fully complied with."

A combination of court orders and state laws has forced the state to spend billions of dollars on debt service, state pensions and state-employee paychecks, despite not having a full budget. 

The General Assembly is scheduled to continue meeting through the weekend; lawmakers are considering ideas that Rauner has made a prerequisite for passing a balanced budget.

  • WNIJ's Guy Stephens and Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey contributed to this report.
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