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Ten Months Into Stalemate, Republican Leaders Make Social Services Offer

Amanda Vinicky

  Republicans are making an offer to get money for social services agencies that have gone without state funding for most of the year.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radongo says Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state.

"The one that is near and dear to my heart given that I'm a social worker, and one that I think a lot of people have been feeling for a long time, is in the area of human services," she said. Radogno's introduced a plan that would spend $1.3 billion on mental health medicine, addiction treatment, supportive housing and sexual assault services.

The measure is attached to an empty bill they want to fill by working with Democrats to enact pension savings plans.

A controversial one that Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton have agreed to is using a "consideration" model to reduce state employees' retirement benefits. It won't generate savings for years, and Cullerton says he doesn't have the votes to pass it right now.

Another idea Republicans want to implement is pushing a portion of the most expensive pensions from the state onto schools and universities. Rauner has pressed employers to take on pension costs for salaries about $180,000.  He also wants school districts to pay for pension increases from teachers’ and administrators’ end-of-year salary bumps.

The Democratic House Speaker's spokesman expressed skepticism, taking into account court rulings that have nixed previous pension plans. Democrats favor a broader spending proposal, which they may advance next week.