Closer Look Illinois New Laws 2015

Lawmakers appear on the House floor May 30, 2014, during session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. After the close of the legislative session this year, state business associations foresee both positive and negative effects.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois House wants to tap incoming but unallocated revenue to relieve struggling universities and human services.

The House voted 64-45 Thursday to authorize spending $817 million that is sitting in special funds during a two-yearlong budget holdup.

The stopgap funding deal approved by the House includes about $26 million for the Southern Illinois University System, plus additional Monetary Award Program, or MAP, grant funds that would benefit the campuses. That amount represents about 13 percent of the state appropriations SIU received in fiscal year 2015, the last year a full year’s budget was approved by lawmakers in Springfield.

“It is very encouraging,” John Charles, SIU’s director of government and public affairs, said after the vote. “We’re appreciative for everything that we get.”

During Thursday’s SIU Board of Trustees meeting held Thursday on the Carbondale campus, Charles said the stopgap funding bill has been dubbed the “Lifeline Budget.” It is intended to do as the title suggests – provide a lifeline to universities and floundering social service agencies until which time a full budget deal is hammered out, or another stopgap funding deal comes along in the absence of that.

SIU President Randy Dunn said at the meeting that there are many who believe, and he’s inclined to be one of them, that there may not be a traditional full year’s state budget until at least after the 2018 elections. But the public university system in Illinois cannot survive without some sort of state support in the interim, he said.

Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris is the sponsor. He says the measure would release $559 million to higher education and $258 million to human services whose funding is not ordered by court rulings.

The money is a small portion of income tax revenue set aside in funds that can't be spent until the Legislature authorizes it.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says it doesn't fix long-term problems and doesn't support it.

The Republican governor has been at odds with legislative Democrats since 2015 over a budget.

The bill is HB109.

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