Rauner signs temporary budget to alleviate year-long stalemate

Nora Shelly, Reporter

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a stopgap budget Thursday that will fund the state until January, compromising with lawmakers a full year after Illinois began operating without a spending plan.

The six-month budget, which passed by a large majority through the House and unanimously through the Senate, will provide increased funding for education and keep the state running through the year in what Rauner called a “small step in the right direction” at a press conference on Thursday.

“This is not a budget,” he said. “This is not a balanced budget. This is not a solution to our long-term challenges. This is a bridge to reform.”
In a statement, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said the stopgap budget “fuels my optimism that grander things are in our future.”

“My priority all along has been for the state to provide the resources so that schools can open and stay open,” Cullerton said. “This budget accomplishes that goal.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that the agreement would ensure Chicago Public Schools would be able to open in the fall “without any major disruptions to our classrooms.”

Evanston city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the Daily the budget’s funding of the Illinois Department of Transportation will allow construction projects, such as the one at the intersection of Green Bay Road, Ridge Avenue, and Emerson Street, to continue operating. IDOT had previously informed the city that the projects would need to be halted due to limited funding.

However, Bobkiewicz said the stopgap budget did little to clear up broader financial issues.

“We’re happy that the Governor and the General Assembly agreed on something and we can move forward,” Bobkiewicz said. “The long-term financial challenges that the state faces were not solved today … the question marks that were hanging over us yesterday for 2017 will continue to hang over us.”

This story was updated at noon.

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Twitter: @noracshelly