State Budget Deadline Looms, But No End In Sight For 2-Year Impasse

CHICAGO (CBS) — State lawmakers have one last shot to approve a budget deal before the spring session ends at midnight, and the task becomes even harder.

A House floor vote was expected Wednesday on a $37 billion budget plan approved by the Senate with only Democratic votes. The measure relies on more than $5 billion in tax increases.

Even if House Democrats can agree on a budget plan, Gov. Bruce Rauner likely will veto it.

Lawmakers worked over the Memorial Day holiday, in an effort to reach an agreement on the budget plan, but the governor said the Senate’s spending blueprint is too heavy on taxes; and too light on property tax relief, workers’ compensation reforms, and other structural changes he has demanded.

Hundreds of school superintendents from across the state planned to convene in Springfield on Wednesday, demanding equitable school funding now.

Rauner has said he supports efforts to change the state’s education funding formula so poorer school districts get more money, but he blasted House Democrats for trying to use the state budget to bail out the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools, blaming CPS for its own financial troubles.

“What we need is a true education funding formula that is fair for all school districts, all low-income school districts, including the city of Chicago; but not a special deal for Chicago where they get hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars more, that no other school district gets,” he said.

The governor said Chicago wants special treatment as part of a state budget deal.

“Unfortunately, the majority party in the House of Representatives hijacked the process in the Senate – as they have done repeatedly over the last two years. They took the bill and they inserted a whole lot of extra things to bail out Chicago; massive bailout to the city of Chicago, not fair, not right, not acceptable, unfair to the taxpayers of the state of Illinois,” Rauner said.

The House and Senate have until midnight Wednesday night to approve a spending plan for the next fiscal year with a simple majority vote. After that, they would need a three-fifths supermajority.

The state already has gone nearly two years without a full balanced budget.

Meantime, dozens of protesters were arrested Tuesday night at the Illinois State Capitol. Members of the Fair Economy Illionis group marched to Springfield, pushing for what they billed as a “people and planet first” budget. To make their point, they staged a sit-in and blocked the entrance to the governor’s office. Around 10:30 p.m., 34 members of the group were handcuffed and dragged out of the building, and charged with criminal trespassing.

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