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Budget agreement ensures schools will open on time; Protects taxpayers

Springfield, IL – Illinois lawmakers approved a $50.6 billion stop-gap budget on Thursday that makes a historic investment in K-12 education, provides money for early childhood education, funds MAP grants, ensures critical government services are funded, protects Illinois taxpayers and provides for no bailout of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system.  

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who helped negotiate the stop gap budget, notes that while the stop gap budget is a positive step forward, the work on a full budget with structural reforms to benefit Illinois taxpayers needs to continue. 

“This budget is a first step, and an example of what we can accomplish when we put people over partisanship,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont). “Ensuring our teachers and students can prepare for the fall is a welcome relief, as is our ability to ensure Illinois taxpayers are protected.  It is my hope this spirit of compromise will continue as we work toward real reforms.”

Radogno notes that a key component of this stop-gap budget is the fact that while the CPS system is receiving some help, they are not receiving a bailout. 

“The Chicago Public Schools shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other school district in the state,” noted Radogno.  “The City of Chicago has the tools available to fix what ails CPS, and they’ll be required to use them to make the necessary structural reforms.”

Under the measure approved Thursday, K-12 education in Illinois will be funded at 100% of the foundation level, which is the first time that’s been done in seven years. There is more than a $520 million increase in funding compared to Fiscal Year 2016, which brings the total for elementary and secondary education to $7.2 billion. All school districts, including Chicago, are “held harmless.”  There will also be a $250 million equity grant for the poorest school districts in Illinois, which is based on the State Board of Education’s low-income grant formula.  Chicago Public Schools could receive $215 million “pension parity” in the future, but the grant will not be enacted unless there’s pension reform passed by the General Assembly. 

Higher education also benefits with funding that totals $1 billion, which comes in addition to the $600 million already approved in Fiscal Year 2016.  This new measure ensures universities are able to open on time and complete a full fall semester. It also allocate $151 million in funding for MAP grants for the spring semester of 2016, and provide community colleges with $114 million, plus funding for adult career tech and other grants.  

“This budget, while not a full-year budget, will help keep our state government operating in order to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” said Radogno. “This also allows us to continue moving forward as we work toward a full-year budget that contains the reforms we need to help grow our economy.”

Included in the stop gap budget is more than $13 billion for new and ongoing transportation infrastructure improvement and maintenance projects, will ensures 800 active transportation projects can continue uninterrupted, while also keeping 25,000 workers on the job.  

Critical human services not being paid under consent decrees or court order will receive $701 million. This includes $35 million in additional human services grants. This funding level means that human services will get more than 90% of the amount they typically would get over 18 months when including spending authorized by court orders.

Funding for critical state government operations will include $454 million from GRF, with an additional $275 million from the Rainy Day Fund, which will help cover critical needs at state agencies, including: utilities, food and medical services at state prisons, mental health centers and veterans’ homes. Public safety also benefits as funds are available to make improvements to, and fuel, Illinois State Police vehicles. State Parks would also remain open, and Conservation Police would still be able to patrol waterways. 

Fiscal Year 2017 begins Friday, July 1, 2016.

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