Yesterday the House passed HB318, which was necessary to fix the $1.6 billion dollar hole in the FY15 budget that was passed last year. The need for a fix was coming down to the wire as the funds for certain state services, such as child care and prison guards, were set to run out of money at the end of March. The fix was made at the recommendation of the Governor and was presented to the House by Speaker Michael Madigan. All 46 present Republicans voted for the bill.
The mess that was created put the new governor in a difficult position where tough calls were needed. The measure creates a 2.25% budget cut across the board with exceptions for pensions, state employee health care and programs to aid the mentally ill, developmentally disabled and autistic children. The Local Government Distributive Fund, which gives a portion of the state income tax to local governments, will be left intact.
Governor Rauner was given the discretion to use $97 million dollars to help school districts that might be most harmed by the cuts in the middle of the school year. He was also given leeway with another $90 million to plug any unexpected problems as they arise.
“Today the House made the right call,” Representative McDermed said, “last year’s budget was incredibly irresponsible. It promised money that the state just didn’t have. This measure will allow us to move on to the FY16 budget with a clean slate. I’m hopeful the Democrats will work with us on a more commonsense budget than last years because this pattern of patchwork budgets just can’t continue if we want to get Illinois back on the right track.”