Illinois budget | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois budget

Students get ready for a violin class taught by Philip Tinge at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis is one of hundreds of private schools in Illinois that could see a financial boost from the state’s new tax credit scholarship program.

More than 90 percent of the families who send their children to the school fall below the federal poverty line of $24,600 for a family of four. That gives them top priority to receive a scholarship.

Although children from low-income families get priority,  if Illinois follows the pattern of other states with similar programs, most of the tax credit scholarships will go to middle-class families.

File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed into law sweeping changes to the way the state funds schools, calling it a historic day that will bring "more equality, more fairness and better opportunity for all the students of Illinois."

Besides distributing state aid more equitably, the long-sought deal the Legislature approved this week gives districts more flexibility on state mandates, allows residents in well-funded districts to reduce their property taxes and creates a new tax credit for donations to private school scholarships.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 29 with comment from Belleville superintendent — Illinois’ school funding overhaul fight is all but over thanks to Tuesday’s 38-13 Senate vote.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll quickly sign the plan, which will increase aid to more than 800 public school districts. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay in instituting the new funding mechanism.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to step up the pace in dealing with the state’s debt.

Students walk through the campus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the Spring of 2017.
Provided | SIUE

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is planning to boost salaries, launch new academic programs and continue renovating buildings thanks to lawmakers finally passing a state budget.

The school even expects to receive the $15 million it loaned the Carbondale campus by the end of August.

Kids sitting on the floor in a classroom
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Illinois passed a budget Thursday for the first time since 2015, and is giving more money to education than in previous spending plans.

But several years of prorated and delayed state aid have forced K-12 school districts in St. Clair and Madison counties to cut staff, increase class sizes, take on debt and deplete cash reserves. And, like the state’s finances, it’s going to take time for districts to bounce back.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

On our Friday “Behind the Headlines" segment, we take a look at a top news story from the week. This week, we turned our attention to the Illinois budget and, then, to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' actions this week. 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois broke its long-running budget stalemate Thursday when the House followed in the Senate's footsteps by voting 74-37 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto. Both Democrats and Republicans backed the measure.

Without a budget for two years, Illinois racked up billions in unpaid bills and had to significantly cut funding to social services and education. The $36 billion spending plan for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, retroactive to Saturday, is paired with a $5 billion increase in income taxes. 

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

Even though the Illinois House overrode Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto Thursday — leading to a budget for the first time in more than two years — the state’s schools may still be in a pickle.

The language of the legislation could effectively block schools from getting state funding because, while it appropriates money, there’s currently no legal roadmap for doling out the money.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to Republican supporters in East Alton on April 12, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After two years without a budget and under threat of “junk bond” status, Illinois Democrats finally convinced enough Republican lawmakers to break with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday.

Rauner vetoed the budget as expected. The Senate quickly overrode him, and the House will try to follow suit Thursday.

The Illinois House has approved a 1.2 percentage-point increase in the state income tax.

Last night, more than a dozen Republicans joined the majority Democrats to pass the legislation, despite the objections of Governor Bruce Rauner.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

The state of Illinois has been without a budget for the past two years and could enter a third straight year without a spending plan if a budget is not sent to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by Friday.

The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.
Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

Updates with details of planned vote Friday — Illinois' Senate minority leader is calling it quits come Saturday. Republican Sen. Christine Radogno's announcement Thursday came as lawmakers are still trying to nail down an elusive budget deal. 

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he'll call a $36.5 billion spending plan for a vote Friday while Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate tangential issues crucial to a state budget deal with Gov. Bruce Rauner. The Chicago Democrat reiterated Thursday that in order to pay for that plan, there would need to be an income-tax hike, though no legislation for that has been filed.

File photo | WUIS Radio

If Illinois legislators fail to send Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a budget by Friday, he said he'll extend a legislative special session until they "get the job done." 

He issued that statement Wednesday afternoon, the eighth day of the special session. The new fiscal year starts Saturday, and should no agreement come before then, Illinois will enter a third straight year without a spending plan.

The Illinois Capitol in Springfield
Flickr | jglazer75

Illinois lawmakers are looking at a Democrat-pushed budget plan that would raise income taxes and make steep spending cuts as a way to end the budget impasse.

Already, the state has been without a spending plan for two years, and the next fiscal year begins Saturday.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois legislators will come back to Springfield for a special session in order to work out a budget deal, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday in an attempt to end an impasse that's approaching its third year and running up the state's deficit. 

The Republican governor's announcement, done via a Facebook video and statement, came the same day that the multi-state lottery association overseeing Powerball and Mega Millions games will leave Illinois by the end of this month if there is no budget. 

Provided | Southwestern Illinois College

Eight full-time and 39 part-time employees of Southwestern Illinois College will lose their jobs in July after its board of trustees approved the cuts Wednesday.

Another 19 administrative positions at the Metro East community college are also being eliminated in July, in a plan trustees approved in March.

SIU System president Randy Dunn
File photo | Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 11 with approval — The trustees of Southern Illinois University have approved a loan of up to $35 million from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to support its Carbondale campus.

The board of the university system approved the plan Wednesday after delaying a vote last month.

There was another setback Wednesday for efforts to end Illinois' budget stalemate.

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain.” But Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

Collinsville pitcher Ryan Siverly tries to apply a tag on O'Fallon's Jacob Dryer in a high school baseball game Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Collinsville, Illinois. Players at both schools have to pay a fee to play sports.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Metro East school superintendents are among the 413 public school leaders who are calling on Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-majority legislature to pass a budget after nearly two years of disagreements, and fully fund public education.

A hand distributing cash with a dialogue box.
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Four school districts in Madison County are on Illinois State Board of Education’s financial watch list for having low cash reserves and a high debt ratio.

The Alton, Bethalto, Edwardsville and Triad  districts earned the state’s lowest financial ranking based on their spending in fiscal year 2016.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to Republican supporters in East Alton on April 12, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stop Wednesday in East Alton as part of a statewide push against the state’s epic budget impasse, which has led to underfunding of social services in the Metro East.

 

The Republican’s re-election campaign paid for the tour, which comes more than a year before he’s up for another term in 2018. He expressed frustration to the crowd of primarily GOP activists about how he hasn’t been able to reach a budget deal with Democratic-controlled legislature for nearly two years.

In the study he led, Washington University researcher Darrell Hudson found the men in his focus groups were more than willing to discuss their experiences with racism and issues related to mental health.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

A central Illinois center for addiction treatment will stay open for now, despite payment delays during the state’s ongoing budget crisis. After two years without a permanent budget, the state is facing a backlog of $12.6 billion in unpaid bills to state employees, contractors and agencies.

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his third budget address Wednesday at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. There has been no state budget since July 2015. 

Reporters and editors from WBEZ, WTTW, and NPR Illinois annotated Rauner's address with fact-checks and analysis. 

Fair St. Louis is happening in Forest Park this weekend.
Fair St. Louis Foundation

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed some of the top news stories.

Topics included the Illinois budget negotiations as well as this weekend’s Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park.

We were joined by:

Metro East Redeploy staff member Mollie Hente with client Leah at a poster making group for awareness to fund Redeploy. Hente learned last week that she is being laid off.
Provided by Mark Smith of Children's Home and Aid

A social service agency making cuts in the Metro East due to lack of state funding says even if Illinois legislators pass a stop-gap budget this week it won’t be enough to reverse the damage to its finances.

Children’s Home and Aid notified another nine Metro East employees last week that they were being laid off.

Their departure reduces the number of teens the agency’s programs for at-risk youth are able to serve, adding to the almost one million people the United Way estimates have lost access to social services in Illinois this year during the state budget stalemate.

Bill Kreeb, president and CEO of Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, and Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, public health administrator at the East Side Health District.
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated 12:00 p.m., April 7 with news of more layoffs — Metro East social service agency Lessie Bates Neighborhood House says it can't afford to continue offering in-home care to 300 seniors from the East St. Louis area.  

If the state is unable to find another agency to provide in-home care, the seniors could have to move into nursing homes when Lessie Bates temporarily closes its in-home care program at the end of the month.

Lessie Bates is also laying off 117 employees who work in the program. 

Gambling revenue from the Casino Queen is a major source of revenue for the city of East St. Louis.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Cash-strapped East St. Louis has received an overdue gift from the state just in time for the holidays: $2.5 million worth of back taxes from the Illinois gaming board.

Normally East St. Louis receives a portion of gaming revenue spent at the Casino Queen on a monthly basis. But until Illinois passed a partial budget earlier this month, the state comptroller’s office didn’t have the authority to release the funds.

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