budget

Peter Medlin

About a mile away from Northern Illinois University’s campus in DeKalb, a nice 2-story house on the corner of Woodlawn Drive is vacant. The only sign of wear in sight is on a small metal sign in the freshly cut yard where the address is slowly rusting away. 

Built in 1955, this house has been home to the presidents of NIU. But, when Dr. Lisa Freeman was hired last year, she already had a home in DeKalb.

Peter Medlin

Illinois state representatives from both sides of the aisle came to Northern Illinois University this week. They fielded student questions, debated state budget issues and discussed the challenges of the political process.

The Illinois House of Representatives boasts dozens more Democrats than Republicans. But Representatives from both parties said they were encouraged by bipartisan action they saw when working on the budget.

The U.S. Census count is less than a year away, and the group tasked with making sure everyone is counted is asking state lawmakers for millions to help in that effort.

If the count on April 1, 2020 reveals that Illinois has lost another 45,000 residents, the state could lose two of its 18 congressional seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services Inc., a political consulting firm.

University officials are praising Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget increases for higher education. 

It would provide more money for student aid and gives colleges a five percent boost in their operating budgets. Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman says the increase won’t undo the damage from previous cuts and the 700 day budget impasse. But it’s a good first step.

IL SENATE DEMOCRATS / TWITTER

Budget talks at the Illinois Statehouse have shown no real sign of progress. This week, Senate Democrats pressed Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration to explain its proposal to shift pension costs to local school districts.

The governor’s budget director, Hans Zigmund, defended the idea at a Senate committee, saying Illinois would face a deficit worth billions absent this or other cost-saving measures.

If the shift is approved, school districts around the state would pay an additional 25 percent of their pension costs in the next year alone.

"Coins" by Flickr User Tax Credits / (CC x 2.0)

The Civic Federation, a Chicago-based fiscal watchdog group Wednesday said Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal is unrealistic and relies on money that may never come through. The group’s report calls it “precariously balanced."

State of Illinois

As the state works toward a budget for the next year, some lawmakers say they need a target for how much money is available.

GotCredit.com/CC 2.0

Higher-education leaders are watching Springfield closely as lawmakers consider what to do about next year’s budget.

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn says there are lots of political options on the table.
 

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

A national study of state government budgeting gives Illinois low marks.  

It's no surprise to see Illinois fare poorly when it comes to finances.  A two year budget impasse created even more problems.

"It's hard to gauge the success of the budget in Illinois when you didn't have one," said Bill Glasgall with the non-partisan Volcker Alliance, which conducted the analysis titled "Truth And Integrity In State Budgeting: What is The Reality?"

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois could soon begin to tackle its massive pile of unpaid bills, thanks to a move Thursday by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Rauner is moving ahead with a bond issue — borrowing about $6 billion dollars — to pay off various state vendors immediately. The move should save Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars a year in late penalties.

Rauner says he’s going to look for other ways to cut spending in order to pay off the bonds. Democrats, like Rep. Greg Harris from Chicago, say they worry Rauner will target human service providers like he did during the budget stalemate.

mikefrerichs.com

The state treasurer says Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner must go to New York to talk bond-rating houses out of knocking the state's creditworthiness into "junk" status.

Democrat Michael Frerichs said in Chicago Monday that the Republican governor should commit to the $36 billion spending plan the General Assembly adopted last week over his vetoes.

It includes a $5 billion income-tax increase. It's the first budget Illinois has had in two years because of political disagreements. Bond houses have threatened to knock Illinois' rating down to "junk" even with the budget deal.

Democratic state senators rejected a push by Republicans to give Governor Bruce Rauner powers that would allow broad spending cuts.  

City of Rockford

Members of Rockford's Finance and Personnel Committee forwarded a budget plan to address a  $5.3 million shortfall to the full city council.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Illinois’ top politicians are divided on how to end their feud over passing a full budget. 

Republicans are holding out for Governor Bruce Rauner’s agenda.  It includes changes to workers compensation and imposes term limits on lawmakers.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says Republicans will be happy to talk about balancing the budget if these measures are implemented. 

Winnebago County’s Finance Committee failed to agree on a balanced budget Tuesday.  

The county has a deficit of more than $7 million. Officials say this is due to increased employee salaries, as well as funds paid out by arbitration.  They say one example is that since police aren't allowed to strike, an arbitration court decides the amount awarded in the case of an impasse.  

A police group says the lack of a state budget is making Illinois a more dangerous place to live.

Rauner touted proposals that would begin to inch toward his goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent over the next decade. But elsewhere in the Capitol, law enforcement officials warned that the lack of a state budget means crime prevention programs are shutting down.

“I am upset at the governor," Tom Weitzel, the police chief in Riverside, said.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Students at Rockford’s Guilford High School showed off their latest high-tech projects to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today.

Rauner stopped by the school to talk about education funding and to check out their innovative engineering-track programs. He pledged to increase K through 12 funding and reduce state mandates on schools.

The Republican governor also clued the students in on the partisan battles that were blocking progress on a state budget.

State of Illinois

Most school districts in Illinois would get an increase in state aid if a budget request approved Wednesday by the State Board of Education is adopted.

Only the wealthiest districts would see a decrease, and it would be less than 1 percent. 

State funding for public schools has remained stagnant or decreased for the past five years. Districts with low property values have no way to supplement that aid, leaving Illinois with one of the most inequitable funding scenarios in the nation.

Northern Illinois University

Illinois colleges and universities still haven’t received state funding due to the budget impasse. Northern Illinois University trustees passed a resolution earlier this month to address that.

NIU trustees passed a temporary budget in September. It anticipated Governor Bruce Rauner’s originally proposed cuts … which was about 29 percent less than the previous year's funding.  

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Public Radio

As college students wrap up the fall semester, there is still a lot of uncertainty for the coming months. Low-income student who rely on the Monetary Award Program to pay for tuition have no guarantee the money will arrive. 

Most colleges and universities have been fronting the money for their students – like Northern Illinois University – but even the University of Illinois has warned MAP recipients they may have to repay their grants if the budget impasse drags on through the spring semester.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says it may be another five months before the state has a budget.

Rauner recently addressed a crowd of manufacturers eating lunch in a downtown Chicago hotel.

“I am the most persistent rascal on the planet,” Rauner said. “I do not back down; I do not give up.”

But Democrats also have been persistent. They won’t agree to any of the business-centered reforms Rauner’s pushed.

As a result, Rauner says the stalemate will continue.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since Tuesday's big summit with legislative leaders. He says he is still defending his decision not to negotiate a budget until Democrats approve his agenda.

Rauner says he's not expecting quick progress in his standoff with Democrats in the General Assembly. The governor says he wants Illinois to be more business-friendly.

File photo by Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

With Illinois in its sixth month without a budget, the state's top political leaders met Tuesday in Springfield. It was the first time they'd all gotten together in months. Was anything accomplished?

In a word: No.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who run the Illinois House and Senate seem as divided as ever.

University of Illinois

Illinois public universities are using their reserves to survive while Illinois operates without a budget. But University of Illinois president Tim Killeen says burning through savings at a rate of $76 million per month is not sustainable. 

“It is time to fix this,” Killeen said. “My expectation is that there will be a good outcome or a reasonable outcome in the January/February time frame, at which time we will pick up the ball and run and University of Illinois will go from strength to strength, I assure you of that.” 

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

When the state finally has a budget, who will be left out?

Illinois is facing the very real possibility of going for more than half of the current fiscal year without a budget.

Over that same six months, court orders, consent decrees and the one budget bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner did sign — funding for K-12 education — put the state on track to spend well above the revenue it’s taking in. Illinois Comptroller LeslieMunger estimates that roughly 90 percent of state spending is still happening, even without a budget.

Rauner Touts Labor Agreements Covering 500 Workers

Nov 18, 2015
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has reached four-year labor agreements with 11 unions and has criticized one of the larger state-employee unions for not doing the same.
 
 A spokeswoman for the Republican says the unions that agreed to deals announced Wednesday represent more than 500 workers. A statement says it brings to 17 the number of labor deals reached covering 5,000 employees.

WUIS

The Illinois Governor and the four legislative leaders won't meet in Springfield this week after all.

The gathering has been postponed until next month.

Even with the state’s ongoing, unprecedented fiscal situation, Wednesday’s meeting would’ve been the first time since the end of May that Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly's four top Republicans and Democrats all got together.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is officially asking Illinois leaders to come to terms on a state budget for the current fiscal year.

At their meeting in Chicago Thursday, the trustees approved a resolution urging an end to the budget impasse, and signed a presentation copy.

U of I President Timothy Killeen says a hiring freeze affecting 230 full-time positions at the university is just one of the cutbacks instituted to cope with the budget delay.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois has gone four and a half months without a budget. It's gone even longer -- five and a half months -- since the governor and leaders of the legislature have all gotten together to talk about it. The last time that happened was at the end of May. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner finally released his plans Friday  for the meeting with legislative leaders next Wednesday in his Springfield office.

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

This is something that hasn't been said much this session, at least by a Republican to a Democrat, when it comes anything having to do with the budget:

"I plan to vote for your bill today, and I've also encouraged my caucus to vote for your bill as well," Republican House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said.

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